Treatment training manual

3.13 Can I take a break in my treatment?

Once you start HIV treatment (ART) it is best not to stop or take a break unless your doctor recommends this.

If you have difficult side effects it is better to change treatment than to stop treatment.

To get the best from ART you need to try to take every dose on time.

The longer you stay on treatment the longer the benefit should continue.

If you get a very good response to treatment and start to feel better, it is still important to continue taking all your meds on time.

Stopping treatment for any short period is not recommended.

Your viral load – the levels of HIV in your blood – is likely to increase again very quickly if you stop ART. Viral load can increase from undetectable to several thousand within a week.

Each interruption of treatment also carries a risk of developing drug resistance. this also makes you more infectious to your sexual partners.

If you want to take a treatment break, it is essential to talk to your doctor first

Some combinations include drugs that have to be stopped together, and others where individual drugs need to be stopped at different times. Nevirapine, efavirenz, 3TC and FTC all stay in the blood longer than AZT or boosted protease inhibitors. They are also easy drugs to develop resistance to.

Last updated: 1 January 2016.