HIV Treatment

Understanding the Common Side Effects of Medicines Taken for HIV Treatment

June 30, 2017

The intention of HIV treatment is to fight the virus as effectively as possible without creating unhealthy or unpleasant side effects. However, the severe nature of the infection requires medication that is really strong and often results in a number of side effects. Some essential reading on what you may expect so that you are better prepared:

Short-Term Side Effects

When you first start your medication, it is not unusual for you to suffer from certain side effects because your body is not used to them. These side effects do not tend to last for long, and within a few weeks disappear as the body adjusts itself. Some common short-term side effects:

Fatigue: If you are feeling tired all the time, it may help to reduce your activity level, pay more attention to eating right, and exercise lightly. Even a few brief naps may really help to make you feel fresher. Usually, fatigue is caused due to anemia, a common side effect.

Nausea: The queasy feeling is usually triggered by certain food or drink, so if are able to identify them, it is best to avoid them. Ginger has the effect of calming your tummy so you can try ginger tea, ginger ale, and even ginger crackers. Don’t have large meals and stick to cold foods and stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. Avoid taking antacids.

Diarrhea: The medicines may irritate the digestive system and cause diarrhea. Drink lots of fluids and consult your doctor to learn about Elisa testing and which OTC medicines to take.

Headaches: Take as much rest as possible, stay away from bright lights and loud noise, drink lots of fluids and try some OTC headache medication.

Insomnia: Limit naps during the day, don’t eat heavy meals just before retiring, limit caffeine intake and consume warm milk. Try warm baths, massages, and soothing music.

Rashes: Avoid taking hot baths and showers as well as harsh skincare products. Itchy areas can be applied with moisturizers or petroleum jelly. If you need to take regular injections, change the site and apply a cold pack on the site.

Weight loss: Consult your nutritionist for a high protein and low sugar diet that will help you to put on weight.

Long-Term Side Effects

There are some side effects that refuse to go away and may also cause serious problems, however, to a certain extent, they too can be managed.

Fat redistribution: Fat production and accumulation by the body can change so you may lose fat in one part and gain in another. Changing medications may help, but if it doesn’t then you have to live with it.

Elevated cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood sugar levels: Diet and lifestyle changes, as well as medications, can usually counter these.

Loss of bone density:Exercising as well as doctor prescribed calcium and vitamin D supplements as well as medications for treating osteoporosis will help.


If you experience any or multiple symptoms, you should always consult your doctor. Never stop or change your HIV medication to prevent health complications.

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