Although everyone’s treatment situation is different, these are the most important key points. Each point is discussed in more detail later in the booklet.

Drug resistance is a specialised area of HIV care. 

  1. If your viral load becomes detectable it is important to take this seriously.
  2. It may just be a lab error, so repeat the test to check. Do this when you get the result. Don’t just wait until your next test.
  3. Often, the second test will be back to undetectable. This may just have been a blip.
  4. If the second test is still detectable, talk to your doctor about the cause. Is it due to adherence, drug resistance, drug absorption, or a combination of reasons?
  5. A resistance test will help decide what to do next. The results need to be interpreted by an expert.
  6. If you have to change meds it is usually best to use drugs that you have not used before.
  7. If adherence was a problem, you might need extra support. This is so that the next meds don’t fail too.
  8. Test your viral load within 2–4 weeks to check the new meds are working. Test every month until your viral load is undetectable. Talk to your doctor if you have problems with adherence or side effects.
  9. Ask about ongoing research. Find out whether new meds are likely to be available and when.
  10. Don’t rush to use one new drug if it is the only drug that will be active. Always try to use at least two new drugs in your combination.
  11. If you are waiting for new meds it is still good to be on treatment. Your options will depend on your current health and CD4 count.
  12. Use drugs that are still active and that are less likely to develop resistance. Check that your doctor is talking to other experts about your care.

Last updated: 1 January 2018.