Q and A


What happens if I stop taking treatment?

What are the side effects if someone stops taking her medication for HIV?


Thanks for your question.

May I ask why you are thinking of stopping? Many people find adhering hard at some in their lives but there are ways to make it easier. Likewise if you are suffering side effects – you can switch to meds that better suit you.

Several years ago a very large study called SMART reported that stopping treatment increased the risk of  serious complications. These included a higher risk for heart, liver and kidney complications in people who stopped treatment and also a higher rate of some cancers.

If you decide to stop treatment, your viral load is likely to rebound within a week or two. If you stay off treatment your CD4 count will start to drop over the next few months. When this happens the risk of developing other infections and getting sick increases.

In the SMART study, most people who took a treatment break did pretty well for a short time. However, most people were not able to recover their CD4 count to earlier levels even 18 months after they restarted treatment.

Please talk to your doctor about who you feel. It is not generally good to stop treatment. It is definitely not good to do this without first talking to your doctor.

Please let me know if you have any other questions.


  1. Kate

    I have been on arv for 8months and I missed my meds for 2a week cuz it was finished and I did my viral load it shows 700000copies. I don’t understand

  2. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Kate, how are you? I have answered your question here: https://i-base.info/qa/18763

  3. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Paul, have you discussed this with your doctor? Managing HIV can be difficult but there are options if your current medication regimen is not suitable.

  4. Paul

    Thanks for the info. I am in the process of stopping all of my meds hoping I’ll feel a little normal even for a short time

  5. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Paul, do you mind if I ask why you will be stopping your treatment soon?

  6. Paul

    Will also stopping my hiv treatment soon !

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Sisi,

    It’s unlikely that she’ll have developed resistance, it is however possible that her viral load may have rebounded.
    When she gets home she should restart taking her meds. If it’s possible she should have her viral load checked.

    The important thing is to restart treatment.


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