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Antiretroviral Medication Allergy


An antiretroviral (ARV) medication allergy is a harmful reaction to an ARV medicine. An allergic reaction may happen when you start a new ARV medicine or after you take the medicine for a few weeks. Your immune system may become sensitive to the ARV medicine the first time you take it. You may have an allergic reaction the next time. You can have a reaction within an hour, or the reaction can happen days or weeks later.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

You may need extra oxygen

if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.


  • Steroids help reduce inflammation.
  • Antihistamines decrease mild symptoms such as itching or a rash.
  • Epinephrine is used to treat severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis.


Blood tests:

You may need blood taken to give caregivers information about how your body is working. The blood may be taken from your hand, arm, or IV.


Desensitization is a controlled way to get your body used to the medicine. Your healthcare provider will start by giving you very small doses of ARV medicine over a few hours. He will treat any allergic reaction that you have. The dose is increased a little at a time until the full dose is reached and the medicine stops causing an allergic reaction.


A severe allergic reaction may cause permanent damage, such as scars on your skin or organ damage. You may have to stop taking the ARV medicine and not take it again. If you have HIV or AIDS, an ARV medicine allergy may affect your treatment.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.