Each person’s medical situation, lifestyle and personal preferences will affect their choice of anti-HIV drugs. As with all aspects of your health, it is important to discuss with your HIV doctor which combination would best suit your needs.
Some of the issues you may need to consider when choosing drugs for your combination are outlined on the next few pages.
Choose a combination that will best reduce your viral load
The combination of drugs you choose should be strong enough to bring your viral load down to undetectable levels and maintain it at that level. A low viral load reduces your risk of developing HIV-related illnesses and makes it more difficult for drug resistant HIV to develop.
Choose drugs you have not used before
If you have already taken anti-HIV drugs, when choosing your new combination it is usually best to have a resistance test done to see which drugs are suitable. This is because it is possible that HIV has developed resistance to drugs that you have been taking.
Choose drugs with few/manageable side effects
Choose drugs with side effects you can cope with. Most HIV drugs have side effects of some sort, although these vary greatly between individuals.
The short-term side effects of each drug can differ. It is important to think about which side effects you are willing to cope with, and discuss with your HIV doctor any side effects you think may be difficult for you.
Choose a combination that you can take correctly
Adhering to the complex regimens of any combination of anti-HIV drugs is difficult, but essential for the long-term success of that therapy. It is useful to work out how many pills you will be taking in your combination, what times they have to be taken, which may be different from your previous combination, and what dietary instructions you will need to follow.
Choose a combination that fits with other drugs you take
Some anti-HIV drugs interact strongly with other drugs you may be taking. These interactions may reduce or increase the level of drugs in your body. Such changes could mean the drugs lose their effectiveness, and some interactions can be dangerous.
It is very important to discuss with your HIV doctor any other drugs that you use (both prescription and non prescription drugs).