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Choosing the Best Combination for Me

Part of A Practical Guide to HIV Drug Treatment for People Living With HIV


Here are some questions to consider when choosing a drug combination. You may not know all the answers, so you might want to look at this list with your doctor.

  • Are there any medications I should avoid because ...
    ... I am resistant to them?
    ... I am hypersensitive (allergic) to them?
    ... I am pregnant or want to get pregnant?
    ... of possible risks to my liver or kidneys?
    ... of possible risks to my cardiovascular health?
    ... of depression or other mental health conditions?
    ... they could interact with other medications I am taking?
  • How many pills would I be taking, and how many times a day?
  • How forgiving of skipped doses is this combination?
  • What are the possible side effects, and how prepared am I to risk them?
  • Are the drugs I'm considering covered by my drug insurance program?

To help answer some of these questions, here is a table that lists some factors that might affect your treatment options. (Again, don't hesitate to discuss these with your doctor.)

FactorYesNoNot Sure
I am pregnant or thinking of having a baby.   
My LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels are high.   
I smoke.   
I have diabetes.   
I have other risk factors for heart disease (other people in my family have had heart disease, I am overweight, or I have high blood pressure).   
I have chronic hepatitis B, hepatitis C or other liver problems.   
My kidneys are not working as well as they should.   
I suffer from depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.   
I have a drug dependence or I am taking methadone.   


Managing Your Health -- a guide for people living with HIV

Practical Guides for People Living with HIV -- CATIE's practical guide series contains extensive information about a holistic approach to treating HIV. See:

In-depth Fact Sheets on antiretroviral drugs and supplements

Federal, Provincial and Territorial Drug Access Programs -- information about drug coverage and benefit programs in Canada can be accessed on CATIE's website at

The Positive Side -- health and wellness magazine for people living with HIV, with articles such as:

  • "Patients Are from Venus, Doctors Are from Mars" (building a good relationship with your doctor)
  • "The Pharmacist List" (reasons to get to know your pharmacist)
  • "As the Wheel Turns -- the HIV/AIDS medicine wheel"
  • "On the Road to Health" (starting treatment)
  • "How Did You Choose Your Meds?" (personal experiences)
  • "Sex, Drugs and Viral Load" (HIV treatment, viral load and sex)

Look in the e-zine index for more (

These and many other relevant resources can be accessed on CATIE's website ( or by calling CATIE at 1-800-263-1638. Other websites with reliable information on HIV treatment:

More From This Resource Center

10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin HIV Treatment

Are Your HIV Meds Working? Warning Signs and False Alarms

This article was provided by Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange. Visit CATIE's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
See Also
More on HIV Medications
More on HIV Treatment

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