HIV Medicines and Side Effects
November 28, 2016
Can HIV Medicines Cause Side Effects?
HIV medicines help people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Sometimes HIV medicines can also cause side effects. Most side effects from HIV medicines are manageable, but a few can be very serious. If you are taking HIV medicines, tell your health care provider about any side effects that you are having.
What Are Common Short-Term Side Effects From HIV Medicines?
Sometimes, side effects that may not seem serious, such as fever, rash, nausea, or fatigue, can be a sign of a life-threatening condition. Any swelling of the face, eyes, lips, throat, or tongue is considered a life-threatening side effect that requires immediate medical attention.
If you are taking HIV medicines, tell your health care provider about any side effects that you are having. Do NOT cut down on, skip, or stop taking your HIV medicines unless your health care provider tells you to. Stopping HIV medicines allows HIV to multiply and damage the immune system. This increases the risk of infections and cancer. Stopping HIV medicines also increases the risk of drug resistance.
What Are Some Long-Term Side Effects From HIV Medicines?
Some side effects from HIV medicines appear months or even years after starting a medicine and can continue for a long time. Examples of long-term side effects include:
What Are Ways to Manage Side Effects From HIV Medicines?
When taking HIV medicines, it helps to plan ahead. If you are starting HIV medicines, talk to your health care provider about possible side effects. Tell your health care provider about your lifestyle and point out any possible side effects that would be especially hard for you to manage. The information will help your health care provider recommend medicines best suited to your needs.
When side effects from HIV medicines become unbearable or life-threatening, it's time to change medicines. Fortunately, there are many HIV medicines available to include in an HIV regimen. The choice of HIV medicines to replace those causing side effects will depend on a person's individual needs.
How Can I Learn More About HIV Medicines and Side Effects?
This fact sheet is based on information from the following sources:
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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