Does ART always work?

Yes, nearly everyone can get an undetectable viral load on ART. But some people ight take longer than others.

If you do not get a full response it can be for one (or more) of the reasons below.

  • Drug interactions. Some medicines, including supplements and vitamins, can affect how you ARVs work. Speak to your doctor and pharmacist about all medicines and supplements you take.
  • Side effects. You have to be able to tolerate your meds and they have to be easy for you to take.
  • Missing doses. This means checking you are taking the right dose at the right time each day. It might mean you are not following food recommendations.
  • Drug resistance. Your HIV may have been resistant to one or more of the drugs you used. UK guidelines recommend a resistance test before starting treatment to check for this.
  • Choice of drugs. Is the combination strong enough? Some combinations are not recommended with a viral load over 100,000 copies/mL. Also, the higher you start, the longer it may take to come down.

Knowing a little about each issue is good before starting ART.

With all these factors covered, if you have a good doctor and you take your drugs carefully, everyone starting ART should be able to get an undetectable viral load.

Last updated: 1 June 2022.