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    Living With HIV: Staying Healthy and Avoiding Complications

    HIV Complications With Protease and Integrase Inhibitors

    Low-dose ritonavir, a protease inhibitor, is now the norm in all protease-based regimens. The higher the amount of ritonavir, though, the greater the chance of stomach side effects and metabolic complications such as abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, and lipid problems, Taiwo says. Paired with the PIs atazanavir or darunavir, the low-dose ritonavir boosts the drug levels of the primary PIs.

    Available integrase inhibitors include raltegravir and elvitegravir. "These novel drugs seem to be very well tolerated," Taifo says.

    HIV Complications With Fusion and Entry Inhibitors

    If you become resistant to other medications, your doctor may prescribe a fusion inhibitor called enfuvirtide. With this medication, it is common to have a reaction at the injection site. This may cause pain and other symptoms. However, complications are not common. A rare allergic reaction causes symptoms that may include a rash, fever, and nausea, for example. And with this medication, you also have an increased risk of bacterial pneumonia.


    Avoiding HIV Complications: When Should You Start HIV Treatment?

    Decreasing the risk of HIV complications and staying healthy with HIV depends partly on starting treatment in a timely way. But what is considered “timely” has changed over time. When to start HIV medicine used to depend on the CD4 cell count. Now the recommendation is to treat everyone infected with HIV. In fact, many large studies have shown that delaying treatment greatly increases the risk of death over the long term, Taifo says.

    Healthy Living With HIV: Talk to Your Doctor

    When you first start on an HIV medication regimen, communication with your doctor is critical -- especially within the first six weeks. "Our job is to educate patients before taking medications and to look out for problems that can be permanent and prevent those that can escalate,” Taiwo says.

    Ask your doctor what to expect in terms of side effects and know which ones are likely to subside during the first few weeks. Make sure you have all your providers’ numbers, including after-hours, and know exactly what to do if you run into a problem.

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