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 week or two. If you stay off treatment your CD4 count will start to drop over the next few months. 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 18 months after they restarted treatment.

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.


  1. Rico

    All I know is once I stated taking Triumeq in two weeks a big change was taking place… I could feel myself beginning to feel stronger and stronger and now I’m healthy again… take the medication

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nelly,

    Its common to feel anxious when starting meds. For more info about what to expect please see here:


  3. Nelly

    I am going to start with my treatment next week I am so scared what should I do, can I take some meds to calm me down?

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Hephzibah,

    What meds have you been taking?

  5. Hephzibah

    I have been off drugs since Aug.3 cos of terrible hallucinations & sleepy state like am drunk (am not always active most part of the morning) & it is affecting my job. My viral load was 121,000 in Nov 2016 & then 34,700 by May 2017 (CD4 315) My drug had been changed 2x What should i do?

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Zizo,

    It’s great that you want to start treatment again. If you can go to your normal clinic this may be easier than asking for a transfer letter. However, its up to you. If they are rude to you, please just try and ignore them. It isn’t a nurses job to judge you, its their job to treat you. And they should do this. If you do have any problems, then yes, you should ask for a transfer letter.

    You should tell your nurse however that you’ve missed meds for a few months. They should check your CD4 and viral load.

    Other than the meds. It sounds like you need some support. Is there a support group near to where you live? Or do you have a close friend you can talk to?

  7. zizo

    I there I have a problem here I haven’t taking my treatment since April until this month because of my family blaming me for my status and no one have been supporting me on my life after telling them about my status.i feel lonely and I just give up easily on my life but now I am strong I want to use my treatments again I dont want to die early I have child to support.Im scared of going to that clinic I used to collect my treatments I know I made mistake for stopping my treatments but people can not understand why I did that I’m scared they gonna shout with out asking a reason..If I go to another clinic and start again everything without transfer letter will be that a problem?

  8. Lisa Thorley
  9. Rommel

    Hi sir
    I got std. And im worried because everytime I take my medicine my taste is not so good? Its that really okay? And can std possible can get hiv?

    Thanks for answer :)


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