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BETA. 2011 Fall-Winter;23(4):19-29.

Making sense of side effects.

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School of Pharmacy, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


The advent of potent combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the 1990s allowed people with HIV to live longer, healthier lives. Current United States treatment guidelines recommend that all HIV positive people start antiretroviral therapy if their CD4 count (a key marker of immune health) drops below 350 cells/mm3, and suggest those with a CD4 count between 350 and 500 cells/mm3 consider starting ART. Despite the lifesaving benefits of ART, many people still struggle with the decision to start taking antiretroviral drugs. For some, the prospect of committing to lifelong therapy is daunting. Others hesitate because medications remind them of their disease. For many, the biggest factor in deciding whether to start ART or change their current regimen is the fear of medication side effects.

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