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Side Effects of HIV and AIDS Drugs

HIV medications help many people lead longer, healthier lives. However, AIDS and HIV drug side effects are also common. These side effects range from mild to life threatening. Here is an overview of some of the common and more severe HIV drug side effects.

Common Side Effects of HIV Drugs

The following chart lists some HIV medication side effects that are more common and a few special precautions. To prevent interactions, it is important to tell your doctor about all drugs you take. Also tell your doctor right away if you have new, unusual, or long-lasting symptoms.


Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)Common Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Ziagen (abacavir)Hypersensitivity reactionHave genetic testing done prior to therapy.
Combivir (lamivudine + zidovudine)Anemia 
Videx, or Videx-EC (didanosine or ddl)Diarrhea, abdominal pain, neuropathy, nausea, vomiting, pancreatitisDo not combine with stavudine.
Emtriva (emtricitabine)Rash and skin darkening of palms or soles, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation 
Epzicom (abacavir + lamivudine)Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, fatigue, chills, dizziness, headaches, insomniaBactrim or Septra may increase blood levels; do not take with stavudine.
Epivir (lamivudine)Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, insomnia 
Zerit, Zerit XR (stavudine, d4T)Peripheral neuropathy, headache, chills & fever, diarrhea, nausea, fat loss in arms, legs, or faceDo not combine with AZT or didanosine.
Viread (tenofovir)Mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, upset stomachDo not use if you have kidney disease
Trizivir (abacavir + zidovudine + lamivudine)Anemia, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, hypersensitivity reactionTell your doctor about all medications you're taking.
Truvada (tenofovir + emtricitabine)Mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, rash, darkening of palms or soles, tingling, numbness, or burning sensationDo not take with didanosine or lamivudine or if you have kidney disease.
Stribild (tenofovir + emtricitabine + elvitegravir) Nausea, diarrheaCan cause lactic acid buildup and severe liver problems.  

Retrovir (AZT, zidovudine)


Anemia, nausea, vomitingDo not combine with stavudine.

Triumeq (abacavir + lamivudine + dolutegravir)


Insomnia, headache, fatigueDo not combine with stavudine.


Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)Common Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Edurant (rilpivirine)Depression, difficulty sleeping, headache, rash 
Sustiva (efavirenz)Vivid dreams, anxiety, rash, nausea, insomnia 
Viramune (nevirapine)Skin rash, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea

Liver problems.



Protease Inhibitors (PIs)Common Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Agenerase (amprenavir)Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, rash 
Reyataz (atazanavir)Elevated levels of bilirubin. Nausea, headache, rash, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, changes in heart rhythm.Effectiveness may be reduced if also taking ritonavir and Victrelis for hepatitis C.
Prezista (darunavir)Diarrhea, nausea, headache, skin rashEffectiveness may be reduced if also taking ritonavir and Victrelis for hepatitis C.
Lexiva (fosamprenavir)Nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, rash, numbness around mouth, abdominal pain 
Kaletra (lopinavir/ritonavir)Diarrhea, fatigue, headache, nausea, weakness, rash, insomniaEffectiveness may be reduced if also taking Victrelis for hepatitis C.
Viracept (nelfinavir)Diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, weakness, rash, anemia, joint pain 
Norvir (ritonavir)Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, taste changes, headache, dizziness, rash 
Aptivus (tipranavir)Elevated liver enzymes and cholesterol levels, diarrhea, rash, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, fatigue, headache 


Fusion Inhibitor (FI)Common Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Fuzeon (enfuvirtide)Redness, itching, or hard lumps at injection site, insomnia, depression, diarrhea, nausea, weakness, muscle pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, flu-like symptoms






Entry InhibitorCommon Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Selzentry (maraviroc)Cough, stomach pain, tiredness, dizziness when standing






Integrase InhibitorsCommon Side EffectsSpecial Precautions
Isentress (raltegravir)Headache, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, insomnia





Tivicay (dolutegravir)Headaches, insomnia






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