Treatment interruptions

Unless there is a medical emergency, it is not stopping ART is not recommended.

  • Viral load will rebound, sometimes to high levels after only a few weeks.
  • Your CD4 count will drop. This may be more serious if your CD4 count is already low. It may also be a more serious risk if it has ever been very low in the past.
  • The CD4 drop can also be difficult to regain even after restarting treatment.

If you want to take a treatment break, a simpler combination may be better than stopping all drugs. If you already have resistance to 3TC or FTC, than continuing to take either drug on its own, or perhaps with a boosted PI, will keep your viral load reduced while waiting for the next regimen.

Specialist advice on how to stop treatment is important as different HIV drugs leave the body at different rates. Stopping all drugs in some combinations at the same time can cause resistance.

If you stop, check your CD4 count at least monthly. Use the change in your CD4 count to decide when to restart therapy.

Last updated: 1 January 2018.