What medicines are in ART? Usually 3 or 4 medicines make up a woman’s ART
combination. Sometimes 2 or 3 medicines are combined in 1 pill. In some places,
women are tested to see what medicines will be best for them. Where testing is not
available, a few combinations that work well for most women are used. We show
some common combinations here. These same medicines can be used during
pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding to protect the baby from HIV.
How to take ART
• Take your medicines every day, at the same time each day.
• If medicines need to be taken 2 times a day, leave 12 hours between the
2 doses. For example, if you take the morning dose at 6:00, then the second
dose should be taken at 6:00 in the evening. Having too little medicine in
your body can cause drug resistance.
• If you forget to take a dose on time, try to take it within 5 hours. If it is more
than 5 hours late, wait until it is time for the next dose.
• Do not stop taking any ART medicine without seeing a health worker to find
out if your medicines should be stopped separately or all at the same time.
Side effects of ART
ART has helped many people live longer, healthier lives. But like many other
medicines, ART can have side effects. People often find that as they get used to the
medicines, many side effects lessen and may go away completely. Common side
effects for ART are diarrhea, tiredness, headaches, and stomach problems such as
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, or not feeling like eating. Even if you feel bad,
keep taking all your medicines until your health worker tells you to change or stop.
Some serious side effects are signs that one of the medicines needs to be
changed. Serious side effects include tingling or burning feelings in the hands and
feet, fever, rashes, yellow eyes, tiredness along with shortness of breath, anemia
and other blood problems, and liver problems. If you have serious side effects, see
a health worker right away.
Preventing HIV when a woman is exposed by rape or because of
Midwives or others are sometimes exposed to HIV while doing health work. For
example, someone might stick herself with a needle that was used on someone
with HIV, or a person might get infected blood splashed in her eyes or into a cut
on her hand. Many women are also exposed to HIV through rape.
ART can be given for 28 days to prevent HIV from spreading because of an
accident or rape. Start one of the ART combinations in the box “ART Combinations
for women with HIV” on page 494 within 1 to 3 days of exposure—the earlier the
better. Other medicines may be available and recommended in your area.
Whichever combination you use, the medicines must be taken for 28 days.
A Book for Midwives (2010)