How do I avoid drug resistance?

The best way to avoid resistance is to take your drugs every day and on time.

Avoiding resistance is more important than increasing your CD4 count because it will let your treatment work for many years.

Having an undetectable viral load (less than 50 copies/mL) dramatically reduces the risk of resistance.

Some drugs have a higher risk of resistance. If you are having trouble with adherence, your clinic can suggest ART that allows for this.

What is cross-resistance?

Cross-resistance is when a drug mutation against one drug causes other similar drugs to fail, even if you have never taken them before.

This is particularly true of drugs in the same class.

So if you develop resistance to one NNRTI such as rilpivirine then efavirenz (another NNRTI) is unlikely to work.

In a similar way, resistance to the integrase inhibitor raltegravir might stop dolutegravir from working, unless you switch quickly.

Last updated: 1 October 2019.