Back to contents

Reducing the risk of resistance

Take your HIV treatment

Taking your HIV treatment in the correct doses, at the right time, observing any food restrictions and avoiding interactions with other drugs will reduce the risk of resistance developing.

Take the right anti-HIV drugs

Before you start HIV treatment for the first time, or change treatment because your viral load is detectable, you should have a resistance test. There’s more information on these tests later.

The results of a resistance test will help you and your doctor to choose the combination of drugs that is likely to be most effective against your HIV.

Be honest

It’s important to be honest with yourself and your doctor about the way you live your life. If it’s likely that you won’t take your HIV treatment properly, then it’s important that your doctor knows this. This will allow your doctor to prescribe a combination of anti-HIV drugs that has a lower risk of resistance. For example, HIV treatment that is based on a boosted protease inhibitor has a lower risk of resistance than treatment that is based on an NNRTI.

An undetectable viral load

The aim of HIV treatment is an undetectable viral load. If you have an undetectable viral load, your HIV cannot become resistant to the anti-HIV drugs that you are taking. However, resistance can develop if your viral load becomes detectable and you continue to take anti-HIV drugs. You can find out more about viral load in NAM’s booklet, CD4, viral load & other tests.

Changing treatment

If your viral load is still detectable six months after starting HIV treatment, or falls to undetectable levels and then becomes detectable again in two consecutive tests, you may need to change your HIV treatment.

Changing HIV treatment promptly can reduce the risk of drug resistance.

But before you change treatment, you should have a resistance test to help select the most effective combination of anti-HIV drugs. If you are changing HIV treatment because of resistance, it’s very likely that you will need to start a new combination of drugs.

Some newer anti-HIV drugs have become available for people who have drug-resistant HIV. The NNRTI etravirine (Intelence) can work well in most people with resistance to the other NNRTIs. Another effective drug for people with resistance is the boosted protease inhibitor darunavir (Prezista).

New classes of anti-HIV drugs have been developed in the last few years. These include the integrase inhibitor raltegravir (Isentress) and the CCR5 inhibitor maraviroc (Celsentri). The fusion inhibitor T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) is an older, injectable drug that is rarely used now but provides another option for people with resistance.

These drugs mean that an undetectable viral load is a realistic aim for nearly everyone, regardless of their previous treatment history or resistance to anti-HIV drugs.

For more information on these drugs and your treatment options if you have drug-resistant virus, see NAM’s booklet Anti-HIV drugs.

Taking your HIV treatment

Published March 2014

Last reviewed March 2014

Next review March 2017

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

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.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap
close

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.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.