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Changing your HIV treatment

changing your treatment

You might find that you need to change your HIV treatment at some point. If this happens, your doctor will explain the reasons for this and discuss your treatment options with you.

Why would I need to change my HIV treatment?

There may be a problem with the drugs you’re currently on if:

  • they are not keeping your viral load down
  • your virus is resistant to them
  • the side-effects are too difficult to manage
  • the drugs have to be taken at times that don’t suit you
  • they don’t interact well with drugs you take for another condition

How will my new HIV treatment combination be chosen?

In these circumstances, there is probably a better combination available – in other words, one that will suit you better and give you better results. Your doctor will know the best alternative combination for your situation.

Now more than ever, it is essential that you talk honestly with your doctor about any problems you’ve had with taking your drugs at the right time. If your doctor understands your lifestyle, it’ll be easier to choose a combination that is not too difficult to take.

Don't be worried about being frank with your doctor - they will not be shocked by, or judgemental about, anything you tell them - whether it's about using recreational drugs or the type of sex you're having. The more honest you are, the easier it will be for them to prescribe you the right combination.

What if I'm resistant to my medication?

If you have developed resistance to your antiretrovirals, your doctor will need to look at your treatment history and the results of a test for drug resistance to decide the most suitable combination of drugs for you to take.

There are now a number of anti-HIV drugs that work against virus that is resistant to other drugs.

The recommended options for people who are resistant to the three main classes of drugs - NRTIs, NNRTIs and protease inhibitors - are as follows:

These drugs are most effective when used in combination with another drug which is active against HIV. You doctor will look at your previous drug history and do a resistance test to find out which would work best for you.

If you are resistant to only one class of drugs, the options may be slightly different and your doctor will advise you.


  • Before you switch, make sure you know about the side-effects your new drugs could have.

Next: Interactions of HIV treatment with other drugs ››

‹‹ Back to: Resistance to HIV drugs



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 20/11/2015 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 20/11/2018

Content Author: Kerri Virani

Current Owner: Kerri Virani

More information:

Anti-HIV drugs, Edited by Greta Hughson, NAM, Aidsmap, 2014

BHIVA guidelines for the treatment of HIV-1-positive adults with antiretroviral therapy 2015, Writing Group: Duncan Churchill Chair Laura Waters Vice Chair N Ahmed, B Angus, M Boffito, M Bower, D Dunn, S Edwards, C Emerson, S Fidler, †M Fisher, R Horne, S Khoo, C Leen, N Mackie, N Marshall, F Monteiro, M Nelson, C Orkin, A Palfreeman, S Pett, A Phillips, F Post, A Pozniak, I Reeves, C Sabin, R Trevelion, J Walsh, E Wilkins, I Williams, A Winston

No one with an undetectable viral load, gay or heterosexual, transmits HIV in first two years of PARTNER study, NAM, Aidsmap, Gus Cairns, 4/3/14

START trial finds that early treatment improves outcomes for people with HIV, NAM, Aidsmap, Gus Cairns, 27/5/15

New British guidelines recommend treatment for everyone living with HIV, NAM, Aidsmap, Keith Alcorn, 24/6/15

START trial provides definitive evidence of the benefits of early HIV treatment, NAM, Aidsmap, Liz Highleyman, Produced in collaboration with hivandhepatitis.com, 21/7/15