Answer to a question from a reader

What can I do about weight gain from ARVs?

The short answer

We suggest you ask your doctor about your weight gain.

The whole question

Dear GroundUp

I was diagnosed in 2021 and I am now undetectable. My weight was 77kg before I took ARVs and now I weigh 91kg. I eat relatively healthily and exercise about four times a week. I am on Acriptega (tenofovir, lamivudine and dolutegravir) I am aware that one of the ingredients does cause weight gain. Is this new weight gain the new norm or is there a possibility of losing it later?

The long answer

Unfortunately, there isn’t an easy answer about the best thing to do.

The ARV combination you are taking is widely recommended and considered one of the best, but some people can put on significant weight, particularly African women. Scientists are researching why this is the case. The current thinking is that it's most likely due to the fact that these medicines are especially good at suppressing your HIV, with few side effects, and therefore help your immune system to recover and your body to absorb your food better.

Increasingly, scientists don't think these drugs cause the weight gain.

Research is being done into weight loss pills but you should speak to a doctor about these.

Note: This answer was significantly adapted and updated from a question on i-Base. Here is a link to the original answer:

Wishing you the best,

Answered on May 4, 2023, 1:38 p.m.

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