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HIV drug resistance explained

One of the possible consequences of not taking your HIV treatment properly is that your HIV will develop resistance to the HIV treatment you are taking. 

HIV treat work by preventing the virus from replicating or making copies of itself in your body. When HIV is able to make copies of itself, even in the presence of a HIV treatment you are taking, we say that it is drug resistant.

Newer HIV treatment options that are available now have provided options for people who have developed resistance to other HIV treatment. 

How to reduce the risk of resistance?

  • Take your HIV treatment daily as prescribed by your healthcare provider
  • Maintain undetectable viral load if possible. If you become undetectable, you cannot become resistance to treatment 
  • Take a resistance test before starting HIV treatment for the first time
  • Be honest with your doctor about your lifestyle and how it might affect you when taking your medication. Your doctor might prescribe HIV treatment that has lower risk of resistance. 
  • Keep your appointments with your HIV clinician and have your viral load checked regularly every 3-4 months. That will help detect resistance before it affects too many drugs in your regimen.
  • Keep a record of which combinations of HIV medications you've taken.
  • Work with your health care provider to find an ART drug combination that is effective and that you can tolerate.
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