What is the risk of side effects?

All medicines have a risk of side effects. This is a real and common worry. 


  • Many people do not get side effects.
  • If they do get them, they are usually mild.
  • Within a few weeks of starting, most people find that ART is much easier to take than they expected. It usually becomes an ordinary part of everyday life.
  • There is only a small risk of serious side effects. It they occur, they should be picked up by routine monitoring.
  • It is easy to switch to another HIV drug. Sometimes changing how you take your meds can also stop side effects. For example, changing timing is relation to food or sleep.

Before you start ART, ask your doctor, nurse or HIV pharmacist about the most common side effects of the drugs that you might use.

  • Ask how likely they are to occur.
  • Even rough estimates will give you a good idea of what to expect.
  • Ask how many people stop treatment because of side effects – usually it is very few.

Last updated: 1 October 2019.