Medications Available for HIV/AIDS

Unfortunately, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS, so doctors must still use a combination of drugs to keep the virus at bay. Each class of anti-HIV drugs is designed to block the virus in a specific way. Due to the virus’ ability to adapt rapidly to single drugs, specialists often combine at least three drugs from two different classes.

(If you or someone you know has contracted HIV, then we recommend looking into a HIV/AIDS clinical trial. Clinical research is helping to develop better forms of treatment to keep AIDS patients alive longer.)

The different classes of anti-HIV drugs include:

  • Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs) – NNRTIs work to immobilize a protein that HIV requires to make copy itself. Common forms of NNRTIs include nevirapine (Viramune), efavirenz (Sustiva) and etravirine (Intelence).
  • Protease Inhibitors (PIs) – PIs are designed to immobilize another protein (protease) that HIV needs in order to copy itself. Common forms of PIs include darunavir (Prezista), atazanavir (Reyataz), ritonavir (Norvir) and fosamprenavir (Lexiva).
  • Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs) – NRTIs are flawed versions of building blocks that HIV requires to reproduce itself. Common forms of NRTIs include the combination drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir (Truvada), Abacavir (Ziagen) and lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir).
  • Integrase Inhibitors – This class of HIV drugs is designed to disable integrase, the protein that the virus uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 cells.
  • Entry or Fusion Inhibitors – These drugs prohibit the virus from entering the CD4 cells. Common forms include maraviroc (Selzentry) and enfuvirtide (Fuzeon).

Find Out Which Medications Are Right for You

Doctors and health care providers must take several things into account when determining which HIV medications they should prescribe to their patient. Of course, the final decision will also depend on several factors including:

  • The patient’s personal preferences
  • Their general state of health
  • Their medical history
  • Their psychiatric history
  • Potential side effects

If you’ve been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, then you should ask your healthcare provider about the available medications and how they may affect you in the long run.

Further Considerations

For many patients, their HIV medications may only be a portion of the entire package of drugs they’ll need to manage their disease. The later stages of HIV leave patients at risk of opportunistic infections, since their immune system has been greatly damaged. Doctors often prescribe daily or weekly drugs to prevent these infections (this is a method of treatment known as prophylaxis).

Patients may also require additional medications to prevent potential side effects. These medications are routinely prescribed to prevent:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain

Patients living with medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure will also be taking medications for their pre-existing health problems. Doctor’s will need to consider this carefully while formulating a complete treatment strategy for HIV/AIDS.