What about side effects?

ART now has a very low risk of serious side effects. 

Mild side effects are more common when you first start. These are usually easy to manage and improve within the first few weeks.

If side effects are difficult or do not improve, you can change to other drugs.

Your quality of life should be as good or better on ART than before you started.

All medicines have a risk of side effects (or adverse events). This is a real and common worry.

However:

  • Most side effects are usually mild.
  • It is easy to switch to another HIV drug or to use medication to manage the side effect.
  • There is only a small risk of serious side effects. It they occur, they should be picked up by routine monitoring.
  • Within a few weeks of starting, most people find that ART is much easier to take than they expected. It usually becomes an ordinary part of everyday life.
  • If you need to modify your combination, there are other drugs that may be better for you.
  • Ask your doctor, nurse or HIV pharmacist about the most common side effects of the drugs that you might use.
  • Ask how likely they are to occur.
  • Even rough estimates will give you a good idea of what to expect.
  • Ask how many people stop treatment because of side effects – usually it is very few.

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