Guides

Metabolic changes: how your body processes fat and sugar

Changes in fat cells and the distribution of body fat were side effects of early HIV drugs. This is much less common with newer drugs.

Changes in blood lipids (fats) like cholesterol and triglyceride levels are a common side effect.

Changes in blood glucose (sugar) levels are important to check for early signs of diabetes.

These changes might be because of HIV drugs, HIV itself or for other reasons.

You will be monitored by routine blood and/or urine tests.

Diet, exercise, changing treatment or using lipid-lowering drugs can all help.

If you are worried, your doctor should take your concerns seriously and act on them.

Fat accumulation to the stomach or breasts and/or across the shoulders or neck has been linked to many combinations. It is not understood why some people are affected.

Mild symptoms might reverse if you switch to different HIV drugs. Exercise and dietary changes can also help.

Fat loss (from arms, legs, face and buttocks) is not a side effect of modern HIV drugs.

Last updated: 1 October 2019.