There are clear drawbacks or disadvantages and benefits to the use of antiretroviral therapy, but let's focus first on the former.
ARV is very expensive and cannot be afforded by the majority. The estimate cost for one type of drug is around 25,000 PHP per month. Therefore, if the person is taking three combinations of drugs it will cost around 75,000 PHP in a month. Praise God that there is global fund for the Philippines for ARV that all people living with HIV can take the medication for free.
A limited number of patients like around 5-7% can have very bad side effects such as making too little blood and becoming anemic, damage to the liver, kidney stones, changes in appearance and high cholesterol, skin rashes, etc. Quite a few people experience milder and less serious side effects which often disappear after the first month or so of treatment. Thank God that the only side effect that occurred to me was feeling nauseated.
People have to be very compliant in taking the medicine exactly as prescribed. This is to constantly keep the levels of the drug in the blood high enough to block the virus' growth, remember that ARV does not kill the virus. Missing a dose results in the level of the drug in the blood dropping, thereby giving the virus a chance to build up resistance against these drugs. Once the virus is resistant, there is no turning back. It is therefore very important that a person taking ARV does not skip any drugs at any time, even if they make the person feel ill.
People need to be closely monitored for side effects and resistance. As soon as resistance starts to appear, the person needs to move on to another regimen which is usually more complicated and expensive. As for me, I praise the Lord that my body has tolerated the combination I am taking and I am feeling normal.
Source: "Channels of Hope" workshop manual.