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Antiretroviral Medication Allergy


An antiretroviral (ARV) medication allergy is a harmful, unexpected reaction to ARV medicine. ARV medicine is used to treat HIV and AIDS. An allergic reaction may happen when you start a new ARV medicine or after you take the medicine for a few weeks. You can have a reaction within an hour, or the reaction can happen days or weeks later.



  • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

  • Antihistamines: This medicine decreases itching and swelling. Antihistamines may be given as a shot, a pill, or a lotion.

  • Epinephrine: This drug increases your blood pressure and reduces your allergy reaction. Epinephrine may also relax some of your muscles so you can breathe better.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Ask if you need to avoid other medicines you may also be allergic to. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Read medicine labels:

Read the label before you use any medicine. Do not take it if it contains the ARV medicine that you are allergic to.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You think you are having an allergic reaction. Contact your healthcare provider before you take another dose.

  • You have a fever.

  • You have a rash that is flat, red, and has small bumps.

  • You have a sore throat or swollen glands. You will feel hard lumps when you touch your throat if your glands are swollen.

  • You have muscle or joint pain and feel tired.

  • You have diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.

  • You have questions or concerns about your ARV medicine.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have severe swelling, redness, or pus where an injection was given.

  • Your lips, eyes, or face are swollen.

  • You have swelling or blisters in your mouth or throat.

  • You have trouble breathing or tightness in your chest.

  • You have trouble swallowing or your voice sounds hoarse.

  • Your skin or the whites of your eyes turn yellow.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Antiretroviral Medication Allergy (Aftercare Instructions)