How Can You Avoid Resistance?

Part of A Guide to HIV Drug Resistance

As you can see, resistance is not easy to deal with. The best approach is to make an effort to avoid it. Fighting the HIV in your body requires a total commitment to taking your medications exactly as they are prescribed. If you give it room to grow, HIV will eventually become resistant to every single HIV medication. Your job is to make sure HIV never gets that opportunity. What can you do?

  • Don't skip doses. Missing only a few doses a month could cause resistance to occur.

  • Don't let yourself run out of medications. Fill all the prescriptions your doctor gives you ASAP.

  • Try to take your medications at the times recommended by your doctor. For example, if you're told to take a medication twice a day, that means you should take your doses about 12 hours apart.

  • Pay close attention to food requirements: If you're asked to take a medication with a meal, make sure you always do so, or it might not work as well.

  • Don't have unprotected sex with other HIV-positive people -- it could expose you to another strain of HIV that is resistant to one or more of your medications (this is called "superinfection").

  • If you are getting medical care from other physicians in addition to your HIV doctor, and you are prescribed medications for other reasons, make sure that you tell them which HIV medications you are taking. Be sure to also tell them about any other medications, vitamins or natural supplements you are taking. Even garlic supplements can potentially change the effectiveness of your HIV medications, so the more your HIV doctor knows about everything you are taking, the better.

Keep in mind that no HIV medication or combination of medications is capable of shutting down HIV reproduction completely. The best medications can do is dramatically slow it down. Taking your medication exactly as directed keeps a consistently high level of the medication in your bloodstream and throughout your body. While these powerful drugs are in your body, HIV will have a very difficult time reproducing, and mutations will be much less likely to occur.

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