Already on HIV
treatment?



There are many reasons why you and your healthcare provider have chosen your HIV treatment. If your lab numbers are good on your current treatment, that’s great. But maybe you struggle with side effects or your routine has changed, making it difficult to stick to your treatment regimen. If that’s the case, talk to your healthcare team about the side effects or other factors making it difficult to stick to your treatment.

With helpful information and personal stories from people living with HIV, My HIV Treatment Hang-Up can help you address some of the questions or concerns you may have about treatment options. Keep scrolling to get started with the Hang-Up Quiz.

hang-up quiz

There is a lot of information out there about HIV treatment. Some of it is true, but some of it is false. Can you tell the difference? Take our Hang-Up Quiz to find out.

No matter what HIV treatment I’m on, I have to change my routine to fit my treatment regimen.

Each person’s daily routine is unique and very important to them. Sometimes, our routines change. Fortunately, there are different types and choices of HIV treatments. Tell your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble sticking to your treatment regimen. He or she can work with you to explore your treatment options.

My viral load and CD4 numbers are good on my current treatment, so I just have to put up with the side effects.

There are many types of HIV medicines, and the side effects vary depending on the medicine. Not everyone has the same reaction to medicine. Some people taking the same medicine may not have the same side effects. While a goal of treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4+ T-cell count, it doesn’t mean you have to put up with side effects that are seriously disrupting your lifestyle. Keep track of any side effects you may be experiencing, especially if they are affecting your ability to take your medicine. Talk to your healthcare provider if you're having difficulty sticking to your regimen due to side effects, because there may be treatment options.

My HIV treatment concerns must not be important because my healthcare provider knows more than I do.

You play an important role in the management of your HIV. It’s true that your healthcare provider is the expert when it comes to HIV and its treatment, but you are the one who knows your body best. Don’t underestimate your ability to monitor how you feel and always communicate this to your healthcare provider. Together, you and your healthcare provider can find the HIV medicines that work best for you.

Having a good relationship with my healthcare provider isn’t important as long as my numbers are good.

Many people have a hard time talking to their healthcare provider, and even when they think they are speaking up, they don’t feel heard. While a goal of HIV treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4+ T-cell count, it doesn’t mean that you can't talk to your healthcare provider about other issues you may be having with your treatment. If you’re having a hard time with side effects or sticking to your treatment regimen, your healthcare provider may want to explore other options.

We hope we were able to address some of the hang-ups you may have about treatment. But we aren’t done yet. Keep scrolling for more information about HIV treatment options and a quiz to help you to speak to your healthcare provider.
You can also sign up for our e-mails for more information and support.

EXPLORE YOUR
TREATMENT OPTIONS

It is important to always keep track of how you are feeling on your current treatment regimen. If you are noticing any changes to how you are feeling, it may be a good time to talk with your healthcare provider. You can discuss any challenges you are experiencing in your daily routine, or any new side effects causing you discomfort. Many side effects are manageable, but if you are open with your healthcare team about what you are experiencing, they may be better able to help you explore your treatment options.

Interfere with the virus’s ability to bind to the outer surface of the CD4+ T-cell co-receptor and prevent HIV from entering the CD4+ T-cell.
Interfere with the virus’s ability to fuse with the outer surface of the CD4+ T-cell membrane and prevent HIV from entering the CD4+ T-cell.
In order for HIV-1 to make more copies of itself, HIV needs to convert its RNA to DNA by using reverse transcriptase enzyme. NRTIs are fake DNA building blocks. When one of the fake building blocks is added to a growing HIV-1 DNA chain, the real DNA building blocks cannot be added on and the building of HIV-1 DNA stops. Thus, HIV-1 RNA can't be converted into HIV-1 DNA and inhibits reverse transcriptase.
In order for HIV-1 to make more copies of itself, HIV needs to convert its RNA to DNA by using reverse transcriptase enzyme. NNRTIs bind to the reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme, interfering with its ability to convert HIV-1 RNA into HIV-1 DNA.
Interfere with the HIV enzyme integrase, which the virus uses to insert ("integrate") its genetic material (HIV-1 DNA) into the genetic material (DNA) of the CD4+ T-cell it has infected.
Interfere with the HIV enzyme called protease. When protease does not work properly, new HIV virus particles cannot be assembled.

You have options when it comes to when and how you take your medicines.

  • Some medicines can be taken any time of day, without food or drink. Other medicines must be taken at a certain time of day or with food or drink.
  • You may take pills from two or more classes of HIV medicines.
  • There are also HIV medicines that are single-tablet regimens/combinations. This means that medicines from two or more of the six classes of medicines are combined into a single pill taken once a day.
  • Your healthcare provider will work with you to find a treatment plan that is right for you, while managing any possible side effects along the way.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your preferences, lifestyle, and any side effects you’re experiencing. This will help your healthcare provider pick the best regimen for you. In the meantime, sign up for our e-mails for additional support.

WHEN SHOULD I SAY SOMETHING TO MY
HEALTHCARE PROVIDER?

If you’re having a problem sticking to your treatment because of side effects, say something to your healthcare provider. Even if your viral load and CD4 count numbers are good, there are other reasons why you and your healthcare provider may need to discuss your treatment options:

  • You’re struggling with side effects. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you’re experiencing. Not sure if it’s time to talk with your healthcare provider? Take the Side Effects Quiz.
  • You sometimes forget to take your HIV medicines.
  • You miss taking doses of your medication because it doesn’t fit in your routine.

Remember that you may have other treatment options. If you’re experiencing any of the above, talk to your healthcare provider about it. If side effects are a problem for you, it’s helpful to keep track of them in a journal or through an app on your smartphone or tablet device. Bring your notes to your next appointment to discuss with your healthcare provider.

Side effects and talking to your healthcare provider.

HIV medicines sometimes have side effects. Most side effects are manageable, however different people may respond differently to various treatments. If you’re having trouble dealing with side effects on your current treatment, you don’t have to accept that as "just the way it is." While it is normal to experience some side effects after starting a medicine, side effects shouldn’t cause you major discomfort. Especially if they become so disruptive that it makes you not want to take your medication any longer. No matter when or how long you experience side effects, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know.

Keep the conversation with your healthcare provider open. You may be able to explore different treatment options that your body responds to better.

THINGS YOU CAN DO

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Keep track of your side effects. Use a journal or an app on your smartphone or tablet device to note when you experience side effects. You can also download a printable Treatment Tracker.

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Communicate with your healthcare provider. Bring any notes about side effects you experience to your appointments. Your healthcare provider will help you find a treatment regimen that is right for you.

SIDE EFFECTS: TO DEAL OR NOT TO DEAL?

Side Effects Quiz

HOW YOU'RE FEELING WHILE TAKING YOUR MEDICINE IS IMPORTANT, TOO.

When taking your HIV meds, have you noticed that you:

Have frequent diarrhea?

Each person’s daily routine is unique and very important to them. Sometimes, our routines change. A treatment regimen that used to work for you may not be convenient any more. Fortunately, there are different types and choices of HIV treatments. Tell your healthcare provider if you’re having trouble sticking to your treatment regimen. He or she can work with you to find a treatment that better fits your lifestyle.

Often feel dizzy or have an upset stomach?

There are many types of HIV medicines and the side effects vary depending on the medicine. Not everyone has the same reaction to medicine. Some people taking the same medicine may not have the same side effects. While the first goal of treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4 count, it doesn’t mean you have to put up with side effects. Keep track of any side effects you may be experiencing and tell your healthcare provider about them because there may be other choices for you.

Have trouble sleeping?

You play an important role in the management of your HIV. It’s true that your healthcare provider is the expert when it comes to HIV and its treatment, but you are the one who knows your body best. Don’t underestimate your ability to monitor how you feel and always communicate that to your healthcare provider. Together, you and your healthcare provider can find the HIV medicines that work best for you.

Skipped taking my medicine to avoid having to deal with a side effect?

Many people have a hard time talking to their healthcare provider and even when they think they are speaking up, they don’t feel heard. While the goal of HIV treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4+ T-cell count, it doesn’t mean that you should feel unable to talk to your healthcare provider about other issues you may be having with your treatment. If you’re having a hard time with side effects or sticking to your treatment regimen, your healthcare provider should want to explore other options that may work better for your body and your routine.

Frequently have headaches?

Many people have a hard time talking to their healthcare provider and even when they think they are speaking up, they don’t feel heard. While the goal of HIV treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4+ T-cell count, it doesn’t mean that you should feel unable to talk to your healthcare provider about other issues you may be having with your treatment. If you’re having a hard time with side effects or sticking to your treatment regimen, your healthcare provider should want to explore other options that may work better for your body and your routine.

Feel tired a lot?

Many people have a hard time talking to their healthcare provider and even when they think they are speaking up, they don’t feel heard. While the goal of HIV treatment is to lower your viral load and increase your CD4+ T-cell count, it doesn’t mean that you should feel unable to talk to your healthcare provider about other issues you may be having with your treatment. If you’re having a hard time with side effects or sticking to your treatment regimen, your healthcare provider should want to explore other options that may work better for your body and your routine.

Even if you answered 'yes' only once, it's good to discuss this with your healthcare provide. You can print this sheet and bring it to your next appointment to help you start the conversation.

This quiz does not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Please partner with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment regimen for you.

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORT

Throughout your treatment, it’s important to stay open and communicate with your support team. Trusted friends, family members, and your AIDS Service Organization can provide a wide range of support. Your healthcare provider and other members of your healthcare team can also talk to you about any concerns or questions you have about treatment and guide you to other resources.

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Partnering with your Healthcare Team

Your healthcare provider and other members of your healthcare team are there for you. Here are some things you can do to help them become your partners in managing your HIV:

  • Consistently keep your appointments and think about what you want to get out of each appointment before you go.
  • Be open and honest about any side effects, any lifestyle changes, and any questions or concerns you may have.
  • Keep your treatment goals in mind.
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Treatment Tracker

Below is a downloadable PDF to help you keep track of your medicines and your health. Not only can this tracker help you remember to take your medicines, it can help you track any side effects, your viral load, and your CD4+ T-cell count, as well as keep your support team contact information close at hand.

Watch others share personal stories about support.

YOU AND
YOUR
HEALTHCARE
PROVIDER

Get the most out of your healthcare team by always communicating and being prepared for your appointments.

  • Be honest about whether you’ve missed doses—your healthcare provider can help you find tools to keep you on track or help you evaluate your current treatment regimen.
  • Let your healthcare provider know about side effects, too. You may not have to put up with them. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you’re experiencing and take the Side Effects Quiz.

Doctor Discussion Guide

CREATE YOUR GUIDE

Choose the questions you want to ask your healthcare provider. Then print a copy to bring to your next appointment.

Doctor Discussion Guide

Choose the questions you want to ask your healthcare provider. Then print a copy to bring to your next appointment.

About HIV Treatment

Can I still give HIV to others even if I am undetectable?
How do I know if it’s time to re-evaluate my HIV treatment?
If my numbers are good, does that mean I should stay on my current treatment?

Evaluating My Treatment

If I’m experiencing side effects or having other issues taking my meds, do I have options to try to address these side effects?
Are there any risks if my healthcare provider and I decide to try another HIV treatment option to address my side effects?
If my healthcare provider and I decide to change HIV treatments, will I ever be able to switch back to my previous treatment?

Side Effects

If my healthcare provider and I decide to switch HIV medicines, will I still experience side effects?
Do side effects go away over time?
What should I do if I experience side effects?

About HIV Treatment

Can I still give HIV to others even if I am undetectable?
How do I know if it’s time to re-evaluate my HIV treatment?
If my numbers are good, does that mean I should stay on my current treatment?

Evaluating My Treatment

If I’m experiencing side effects or having other issues taking my meds, do I have options to try to address these side effects?
Are there any risks if my healthcare provider and I decide to try another HIV treatment option to address my side effects?
If my healthcare provider and I decide to change HIV treatments, will I ever be able to switch back to my previous treatment?

Side Effects

If my healthcare provider and I decide to switch HIV medicines, will I still experience side effects?
Do side effects go away over time?
What should I do if I experience side effects?

View how others living with HIV feel about their healthcare provider.

JOIN US

Sign up for our e-mails to:

  • Learn more about HIV treatment
  • Get help on how to best partner with your healthcare provider
  • Find support to face your treatment hang-ups

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