Q and A


Can HIV positive people increase muscle mass?

Does being HIV positive mean it is harder to build muscle mass as a recent study said that T cells might be involved in muscle damage repair? 

I know people who trained before getting infected generally have an easier time getting back their lost muscles because of muscle memory but my question is what about those who never trained before and only started consistent resistance training after getting infected and have no muscle memory to rely on?

I’m assuming the immune cells would be too busy fighting HIV and therefore muscle repair would be hindered?

Or do ARVs do most of the heavy lifting of fighting the virus so it does not hinder immune cells ability to synthesize muscles given adequate protein nutrition? 



Before there was effective HIV treatment, many people focused on building muscle mass to help with long-term health.

With modern HIV drugs though, exercise goals are should not be any different for HIV positive compared to HIV negative people.

Whatever your personal exercise goals, it is good to get advice from a fitness training who can help develop an exercie programme that is right for you.

This link has more information about exercise and staying active:


  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi William,

    The following is info about Biktavry- https://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/files/pil.9313.pdf A drop in muscle mass isn’t noted as being a potetnional side effect, however this isn’t to say that it can’t happen. If your lifestyle hasn’t changed it might be worth changing medicatin to another combination.

  2. William

    I just want to say that bob is absolutely correct. When I started BIKTARVY 3 months after contracting hiv I started to drop muscle quickly. I have had doctors shut me down continuously about this and treat me as if I don’t know what I’m talking about which is ironic because it’s my body and I’m extremely analytical of what’s going on with it.

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for this. As Simon says above, whatever your personal exercise goals, it’s good to get advice from a fitness trainer who can help develop an exercise programme that is right for each individual.

    It’s important to let your HIV doctor know about any supplements you’re are taking to achieve better fitness. That’s because some ARVs can interact with some supplements.

    Please see this link to the website for HIV drug interactions.

    And this link has more information about exercise and staying active:

  4. Bob

    I know what you are talking about. I’ve been on ARVs for ten years now and it’s very hard to gain muscle, I used to be able to very easily, but not now. I use anabolic steroids (testosterone, nandrolone) and still struggle to put on muscle! When I miss my ARVs I notice my muscles look fuller and healthier about 24hours after my last ARV.. while on steroids. When I take the ARV my muscles seem to decrease a bit, it’s very noticeable to me. I’ve now started low dose trenbolone with testosterone and nandrolone as I want to gain muscle mass, I also use HGH. I should be massive with all this along with training and great diet but I’m not that big, compared to people running the same things who don’t have HIV. So I’m trying to find out why ARVs are so catabolic and what I can do to stop this catabolic effect. I will keep taking my meds daily as it’s important but I won’t stop in my pursuit to gain muscle on ARVs. I feel your pain brother, anabolic steroids are a Godsend, people like us with HIV are so blessed to have them and we must use them responsibly and be educated as I want to stay alive for a long time.. ARVs are catabolic for definite and they have a very negative effect on muscle, so we have to find a way around this to get the same muscle growth as non HIV patients.. Drs aren’t concerned about this, but I am as I don’t like looking different to other people..

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Klass,

    People who are HIV positive are able do any type of job. So they can, and do, work to support their families. And with modern HIV treatment (ART) they don’t always get sick.

    People taking ART can now have a life expectancy similar to someone who is HIV negative.

    Please see more Q&As on this subject at this link.

  6. Klaas

    What type of job should HIV people do can they work for their families or they will always get sick


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