Common Side Effects of ARVs

2 min


Antiretroviral (ARVs) are the mainstay of HIV treatment. HIV cannot be cured with these medications, but they can lessen the quantity of virus a person with HIV has in their body. Besides, a healthy immune system is essential to ward off illness.

For antiretroviral medications to be effective, you must take them as prescribed. However, it’s not always simple to stick with a treatment plan. Failure to take your medications may also lead to several complications.

Unfortunately, the negative effects of antiretroviral medications can be severe enough for some patients to force them to discontinue their treatment. Also, suppose an HIV patient skips a dose of their medicine. In that case, the virus can reactivate in their system, among other side effects that depend on your medications.

Types of Antiretroviral Medications

You may have various side effects depending on the type of mediations needed.

Nucleoside reverse transcription Inhibitors (NRT)

NRTIs help block reverse transcriptase, an enzyme essential for HIV replication. Some of the examples of NRTIs, such as Zagen, Emtriva, Lamivudine, and Stavavudine.

A class of reverse transcriptase inhibitors is known as non-nucleoside (NNRTIs).

NNRTIs, like NRTIs, are effective. The only difference between them is that they operate on enzymes at various locations. These antiretroviral drugs include, doravirine, (Pifeltro), efavirenz (Sustiva), and etravirine (Intelence).

Protease inhibitors (PIs)

HIV needs protease for them to grow. However, protease inhibitors help impede enzymes from multiplying. They include:  atazanavir (Reyataz), arunavir (Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva, Telzir), and indinavir (Crixivan)

Common Side Effects of Antiretroviral Medications

The above medications help treat HIV/AIDS can have side effects. Some of the issues are minor, but others can be life-threatening. The adverse effects of newer drugs are less severe and less frequent. When taking them, you may experience:


Every HIV drug has the potential to cause a rash. A strong rash may indicate something more serious in certain cases, such as an allergic reaction. But you may develop a rash accompanied by an itchy rash that spreads rapidly from one area of the body to another, particularly around the mouth, nose, and eyes.

Depression, Anxiety, and Mood Swings

Treatment for HIV may cause mood swings, such as melancholy and anxiety. HIV can cause mood swings, although this isn’t always the case.

Drugs that may cause it to include Edurant, Odefsey, Complera, and Dolutegravir effectively treat HIV.


Drugs that may cause it include: protease-blocking agents. NRTIs are antibiotics that inhibit nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase (NRT) and delavirdine.

Loss of Desire to Eat

Drugs that may cause it include: abacavir (Ziagen) and zidovudine. In the meantime, here are some ideas:

·         Instead of three substantial meals a day, eat several smaller ones throughout the day.

·         Get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals by consuming smoothies or taking nutritious supplements.


Lipodystrophy is a medical disorder that affects the body’s fat distribution. Some people may feel embarrassed or anxious as a result of this.

Combinations of medications from the NRTI and protease inhibitor families, for example, may induce lipodystrophy.

Nausea and Vomiting

Almost all antiretroviral medications (ARTs) are at risk.

What could be helpful?

·         Consume smaller servings throughout the day rather than three large meals.

·         Plain rice and crackers are good examples of foods that are easy to eat.

In addition, there are several unintended consequences;

·         Hypersensitivity or allergic reactions

·         Irritation of the bone

·         Coronary disease

·         Hyperglycemia and diabetes


HIV medications must be taken exactly as directed for them to be effective. Don’t stop taking the drug if you experience side effects. Instead, you should consult with the medical team. They may offer advice on how to alleviate the adverse effects, or they may change the treatment strategy.

Like it? Share with your friends!