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I threw up my ARVs. Should I take more meds?

A Filipino living with HIV throws up after taking his ARV, and he would like to know what steps he should now take. Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon provides some information about this.

Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon – president of the AIDS Society of the Philippines and current Chief of Clinics of Sta. Ana Hospital – answers all your HIV-related inquiries. For all your questions, email or

Dear Doc,

I am currently in lami-zido-efav combo, at suka po ako nang suka, at naisuka ko ‘yung gamot (I have been throwing up, and I may have vomited my medicine). Dapat po ba ako uminom ulit ng gamot (Should I take another dose of my medicine)?

Mr. Double Dose

Vomiting (otherwise known as “throwing up”) is one of the most common side effects of antiretroviral (ARV) medication intake, in particular Lamivudine and Efavirenz. But before vomiting occurs, people living with HIV feel nauseated (feeling sick to your stomach).

Both nausea and vomiting should be monitored and reported back to the health care provider so that appropriate adjustments of ARV intake medications will be made. It is similarly important that this is reported as it may necessitate changes to be made including in the following: a) volume of food intake; b) timing of food intake with intake of ARV medications; c) the need to add anti-vomiting/anti-nausea medication; and d) avoidance of situations that would trigger the person living with HIV to experience increased vomiting and/or nausea.

This is usually observed for two weeks to one month, and appropriate support is provided to avoid dehydration and electrolyte imbalances that will lead to malnutrition, as well as prevent further hospitalizations.

I would not advise you to take ARV as this may trigger another vomiting episodes again and again, thereby putting ARV intake wastage.

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Again, it would best to report first to your health provider as a more definitive evaluation and medical management awaits for you. Support yourself with electrolytes (drink buko juice or the reliable Oresol and/or commercially available electrolyte drink) as first aid and have yourself scheduled soon with your health provider.

Fondly called Jojo, Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon is a medical doctor with specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. Spending much of his time in public health services with focus on HIV and AIDS, STI, and sexual and reproductive health, Jojo wears multiple hats, blending public health advocacy and clinical-cum-administrative work. For 12 years, he served as the Executive Director of Remedios AIDS Foundation, the pioneering AIDS service organization in the Philippines. Then in 2008, he assumed the presidency of the AIDS Society of the Philippines, which he still heads now. Jojo is also the current Chief of Clinics of Sta. Ana Hospital, and has held regional and local consultancy works for development agencies. Jojo is a self-confessed lacto-vegetarian, a raja yoga meditation practitioner, and a health/wellness buff. He also loves to share his thoughts and reflections based on learned skills/competencies and experiences. This soft-spoken soul loves taking on new initiatives/roles, and loves to talk with people about spirituality and good health.


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