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HIV & AIDS Health Center

Step 1 of 6
Action Set
HIV: Taking Antiretroviral Drugs

Taking antiretroviral drugs for HIV will not cure your infection. But it may allow you to stay healthy for a long time. And treatment can help prevent spreading the infection to other people.

Your willingness and ability to follow your antiretroviral therapy schedule exactly as prescribed is essential for successful treatment of your HIV infection. Not following your prescribed HIV therapy may cause treatment failures, such as:

  • Drug resistance. The virus that causes HIV can become resistant to antiretroviral drugs used to treat the infection.
  • Higher viral loads. This measures how much HIV is present in your blood.
  • Disease progression.

In the past a person had to take many pills several times a day, which was hard for some people. But over the past few years, this routine has become much simpler, and people take their medicine only once or twice a day. With the right knowledge and tools, you can successfully take your medicine as prescribed.

If you are at high risk for getting infected with HIV, you also may take antiretroviral medicine to help protect yourself from HIV infection.1 But to keep your risk low, you still need to practice safer sex even while you are taking the medicine.

how.gif  How can you take your antiretroviral therapy drugs as prescribed?


  1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014). Preexposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention in the United States – 2014: A clinical practice guideline. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed July 27, 2014.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerPeter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine

Current as ofAugust 12, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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