HIV Treatment - The Basics

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Illustration of a retrovirusCurrently available HIV treatments do not cure HIV. But this can mean alonger and healthier .

Having a combination of drugs that work against the HIV virus (these are often called antiretroviral drugs - or cocktails) can reduce the amount of HIV in the blood to a level that is so low that it can not be detected with standardized tests. Viral . This is called an "undetectable viral load" and that is the goal of HIV treatment.

Having an undetectable viral load means your Immune system can recover and stay strong so it can fight off infections.

There are different types or classes of anti-HIV drugs. Each class works against HIV in a different way. Treatment of HIV usually includes three drugs of two different classes.

The classes of anti-HIV drugs

  • Nucleoside / nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).
  • nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).
  • Protease inhibitors (IPS).
  • Fusion inhibitors and entry.
  • Integrase inhibitors.

Most people have a combination that includes two NRTIs and an NNRTI or a protease inhibitor.

Intake integrase inhibitors are approved for use by people starting HIV treatment, but at the moment they are generally rfor people who have had multiple HIV treatments in the past.


These drugs target a substance called reverse transcriptase that HIV uses to infect cells of the immune system.

There are three types of drugs that work against reverse transcriptase.

NRTIs are 3TC (lamivudine, Epivir), Abacavir (Ziagen), AZT (zidovudine, Retrovir), ddI (didadosine, Videx) D4T (Stavudine Zerit), and FTC (emtricitabine, Emtriva).

Some NRTIs have been combined into a single pill to make them easier to take. These are to abacavir and 3TC (Kivexa), AZT and 3TC (Combivir), And abacavir, AZT and 3TC (Trizivir).

It is a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NtRTI), tenofovir (Viread), which works against HIV in a manner similar to NRTIs. It is available in a pill combined with FTC called Truvada.

Among the NNRTIs are efavirenz (Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence), nevirapine (Viramune) And rilpivirine (Edurant).

Efavirenz, tenofovir and FTC are available in a combination pill called Atripla. Rilpivirine, FTC and tenofovir are available in an indigestible combination called Eviplera.

Protease inhibitors

Protease is an HIV enzyme. The drugs that attack it are called protease inhibitors.

Almost all currently used protease inhibitors are "amplifiable." This means that they may have their power increased by adding a small dose of a second called protease inhibitor ritonavir (Norvir).

Protease inhibitors boosted are recommended for people in the treatment. The first line are atazanavir (Reyataz) / Ritonavir, darunavir (Prezista) / ritonavir, fosamprenavir (Telzir) / ritonavir, lopinavir / ritonavir (this is an indigestible combination called Kaletra) and saquinavir (Invirase) / Ritonavir.

Tipranavir (Aptivus) / ritonavir is only approved for people who have had a large number of antiretroviral treatments in the past.

There are two other protease inhibitors that are now rarely used. These are indinavir (Crixivan) And nelfinavir (Viracept).

Inhibitors of fusion and entry

Drugs from these classes prevent HIV from infecting cells. Its use is usually reserved for people who have had a large number of anti-HIV drugs in the past.

There is only one fusion inhibitor. It is called T-20 (enfuvirtide, Fuzeon) and is given by injection.

An inhibitor, inhibitor or CCR5 inhibitor is also approved. His name is maravirocCelsentri). For this drug to function as you need it is necessary to have what is known as co-receptor "CCR5" on the surface of HIV. Your clinic will perform a test called tropism test to see if they are suitable for treatment with a CCR5 inhibitor. This medicine may be taken by people who are changing their HIV treatment.

Integrase Inhibitors

These prevent HIV from integrating with cells of the immune system. A drug of this class has been approved, it is called raltegravir (Isentress). It can be taken by people starting or changing HIV treatment.

When to start treatment

It is recommended that you start HIV treatment as soon as you are diagnosed.

Study Start changed all paradigms with respect to HIV treatment and, nowadays, everyone should start ART as soon as diagnosed.

The initiation of treatment with

In the UK the guidelines recommend starting the treatment Note from the Editor of Seropositive.Org. Because we have a national treatment policy for people living with HIV or AIDS, I have deleted this part of the text and downloaded the guidelines provided by the National STD / AIDS and Viral Hepatitis Program that will be incorporated into this page just below the credits

Collateral effects

All drugs can cause Collateral effects. The side effects that HIV / AIDS drugs can cause should be explained to you before you begin to have them. Side effects usually go away or become lighter after a few weeks. Tell your doctor about any side effects, especially eczema. If you have difficulty managing your side effects mSometimes it is possible to do something for them..


HIV can develop Resistance to the drugs used to treat it. You should have a Resistance Test before you start switching treatment, to make sure that you are taking most of the appropriate medications.

Taking your drug properly this can help prevent resistance development. You can read more about this in the datasheets and Adherence Adherence tips. These are available at

Michael Carter, Greta Hughson

Posted in: 31 2012 March

Translated by Cláudio Santos de Souza of Contents this link HIV treatment


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