Q and A


What happens if I stop taking treatment?

What are the side effects if someone stops taking her medication for HIV?


Thanks for your question.

May I ask why you are thinking of stopping? Many people find adhering hard at some in their lives but there are ways to make it easier. Likewise if you are suffering side effects – you can switch to meds that better suit you.

Several years ago a very large study called SMART reported that stopping treatment increased the risk of  serious complications. These included a higher risk for heart, liver and kidney complications in people who stopped treatment and also a higher rate of some cancers.

If you decide to stop treatment, your viral load is likely to rebound within a few weeks and your CD4 will start to drop again. When this happens the risk of developing other infections and getting sick increases. In the SMART study, most people who took a treatment break did pretty well for a short time. However, most people were not able to recover their CD4 count to earlier levels even after they restarting treatment for 18 months.

Please talk to your doctor about who you feel. It is not generally good to stop treatment. It is definitely not good to do this without first talking to your doctor.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.

Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.


  1. rahat

    Sir,, I have 2 Question ( sorry for my poor English)
    I m from Bangladesh.

    1) I have had sex with a call girl 10 months ago.(July 2016)
    I had taken protection with condom.

    after 10 months(April 2017) after I test my HIV 1 &2 at Five Time ( ELISA, rapid test, Ag and Ab) 5 Different Hospital . All result Negative…..

    25/3/07(HIV 1/2) ICT= Negative

    29/3/07(HIV 1/2)(Elisa)=

    19/4/07(HIV 1/2)(Rapid Test)=

    29/4/07 (HIV 1/2)
    (Ag & Ab) – Negative

    Are My Test Conclusive?
    Please, help me. Are these results conclusive or should I keep testing at least until six months?

    I don’t know, if I have any immunodeficiency disease –
    but I have gastric problem, heart burn , I look less than my eyes by birth Do not eat medicines for this. just use Glasses।

    I am felling worried till now. Am I free from HIV? .please give me answer.

    2nd Question
    Recently, I went to barber to shave, he changed new blade and
    Did a clean shave at last he found a couple of cuts on my upper throat.
    I actually don’t know the blade was old or new.
    if the blade was old, what if the blood enters in to my cuts I am too much worried about it can’t sleep
    Please help

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nkoli,

    If its possible you should go back to your old clinic and tell the nurse that she must give you a transfer letter. If she won’t do this, then make a complaint against her. It is your right to have treatment.

    Have you been to your new clinic yet? If you have, have you explained the problem?

    With regards to whether you can use your card or not, the following organisation will be able to advise you about this.


  3. Nkoli

    I started ART on 1 April 2017. I had to change places and the nurses refused to give me transfer, now I do not know what to do because most clinics want that transfer letter. I have a clinic card where they wrote my treatment and return dates, can I get treatment with this card. How long will I live if I run out of meds now? I have 6 of them left.
    I’m so stressed, I’m in South Africa

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Joewell,

    Are you on medication? If you are, how long have you been on it for?

    If you aren’t on meds, then you will need to start them. This is because only ARVs can help your HIV, and bring your viral load down.

  5. joewell

    Recently I did a viral load test. I wasn’t happy with the results. It was 652, 321 cp/ml. What can I do to improve my viral load?

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Khetani,

    Thanks for the positive feedback. Its great to know that you find our services helpful.

  7. Khetani

    Thanks to the answers from HIV advocates and others.
    It really helful and encouraging to people living with HIV.

  8. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Serkalem,

    Thanks ever so much. Your comment is greatly appreciated.

  9. serkalem

    your advice is very nice for HIV+ person.

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