Side-effects

Michael Carter, Selina Corkery

The outlook has never been better for people with HIV in the UK. The right HIV treatment and care can mean that you have a good chance of living a long and healthy life, with a normal life span.

The HIV treatments available now are highly effective and, compared to older anti-HIV drugs, easier to take and cause fewer side-effects.

Nearly every medicine, whatever condition it’s treating, can cause unwanted side-effects in some people. (These are sometimes also called adverse events.)

Every anti-HIV drug now in use went through years of research. This included clinical trials with hundreds, if not thousands, of people with HIV. These trials are to make sure that the drugs work against HIV and are safe to use. For a drug to be approved for use it has to be shown that the benefits of using it outweigh the side-effects that it causes.

It’s not inevitable that you will experience side-effects from any of the drugs you are given to treat HIV or other infections and a lot of side-effects are mild, can be controlled with other medicines, and will lessen or go away over time.

However, for some people, side-effects can be a cause of illness, discomfort and distress when taking anti-HIV drugs – even in people who have an undetectable viral load and a high CD4 cell count, and who aren’t ill because of HIV.

If you do find side-effects a problem on your current HIV treatment, the range of anti-HIV drugs available means there’s a good chance that you may be able to change from the treatment that is causing the side-effect.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.