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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Khetani,

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

  4. Khetani

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

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Serkalem,

    Thanks ever so much. Your comment is greatly appreciated.

  6. serkalem

    your advice is very nice for HIV+ person.

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