The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Please review any specific side effects or special instructions with your doctor. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.

Medications are given to treat and control HIV viral infections in the body. As research continues, new drugs are becoming available. It is extremely important to take the medications exactly as prescribed especially since HIV resistance to medication can develop if doses are skipped. Work with your doctor to develop a plan of treatment that can best fit your needs. This plan may change as new treatments become available.

Drugs are typically prescribed in combination. Treatment with a combination of drugs is referred to as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Doctors attribute longer survival and improved health in people with HIV infection to the use of HAART.

Prescription Medications

Protease inhibitors

    
  • Ritonavir
  • Saquinavir
  • Nelfinavir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Atazanavir
  • Tipranavir
  • Darunavir
  • Nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors

        
  • AZT
  • ddC
  • ddI
  • d4T
  • Lamivudine
  • Abacavir
  • Emtricitabine
  • Tenofovir
  • Zidovudine and lamivudine
  • Zidovudine, lamivudine, and abacavir
  • Abacavir and lamivudine
  • Emtricitabine and tenofovir
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors

        
  • Delavirdine
  • Nevirapine
  • Efavirenz
  • Etravirine
  • Rilpivirine
  • Fusion inhibitors

        
  • Enfuvirtide
  • Integrase inhibitors

        
  • Raltegravir
  • Elvitegravir
  • Dolutegravir
  • CCR5 inhibitors

        
  • Maraviroc
  • Once a day complete combination treatment pills:

        
  • Efavirenz, tenofovir, and emtricitabine
  • Rilpivirine, tenofovir and emtricitabine
  • Elvitegravir, cobicistat, tendofovir and emtricitabine
  • Drugs to treat or prevent opportunistic infections

        
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Pentamidine
  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir
  • Atovaquone
  • Valacyclovir
  • Valganciclovir
  • In addition, combinations of some of the above medications can be prescribed as one pill.

    Protease Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • Ritonavir
  • Saquinavir
  • Nelfinavir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Atazanavir
  • Tipranavir
  • Darunavir
  • Protease inhibitors interfere with HIV reproduction in the body during a late stage in the virus life cycle. This slows the growth of HIV.

    They are in general well tolerated. Common side effects include:

        
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cholesterol abnormalities
  • Liver injury
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Nucleoside and Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • AZT
  • ddC
  • ddI
  • d4T
  • Lamivudine
  • Abacavir
  • Emtricitabine
  • Tenofovir
  • Zidovudine and lamivudine
  • Zidovudine, lamivudine, and abacavir
  • Abacavir and lamivudine
  • Emtricitabine and tenofovir
  • Nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors interfere with HIV reproduction in the body during an early stage of the virus life cycle. The earliest HIV treatments are in this category, but newer medications in this class type are now well tolerated and remain as one of the best components of HIV treatment.

    Possible side effects are very specific to each medications but can include:

        
  • Decrease the number of red and white blood cells
  • Nerve damage
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Digestive system upset
  • Headache
  • Kidney failure
  • Life-threatening rashes
  • Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • Delavirdine
  • Nevirapine
  • Efavirenz
  • Etravirine
  • Rilpivirine
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors interfere with HIV reproduction in the body, slowing the spread of HIV.

    Possible side effects include:

        
  • Headache
  • Hepatitis
  • Depression
  • Nightmares
  • Birth defects if used during pregnancy
  • Rash
  • Stevens-Johnson syndrome
  • Liver failure
  • Fusion Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • Enfuvirtide
  • Fusion inhibitors interfere with HIV fusion or attachment to certain receptors on cells in the body, slowing the spread of HIV.

    Possible side effects include:

        
  • Infection site reactions, including itching, swelling, redness, pain or tenderness, hardened skin, bumps, or infection
  • Allergic reactions
  • Integrase Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • Raltegravir
  • Elvitegravir
  • Dolutegravir
  • Integrase inhibitors interfere with the integration of HIV in the nucleus of the cell, slowing the spread of HIV.

    Possible side effects include:

        
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • CCR5 Inhibitors

    Common names include:

        
  • Maraviroc
  • CCR5 inhibitors interfere with HIV attachment to certain receptors on cells in the body, slowing the spread of HIV.

    Possible side effects include:

        
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Liver injury
  • Drugs to Treat or Prevent Opportunistic Infections

    Common names include:

        
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Pentamidine
  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir
  • Atovaquone
  • Valacyclovir
  • Valganciclovir
  • Special Considerations

    Drugs do not cure HIV infection or AIDS. They are given to suppress the virus. If you are HIV-positive, but do not have symptoms of AIDS, the doctor may recommend delaying the start of medication therapy until the time is right. Most important is following up with your doctor who will help monitor the health of your immune system and together you will decide when and what the right treatment combination is for you.

    Whenever you are taking medication, take the following precautions:

        
  • Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking any prescription medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share any prescription medication.
  • Know what the results and side effects. Report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
  • When to Contact Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if symptoms worsen, new symptoms develop or you experience side effects. Due to the potential for adverse reactions to these drugs, it is important to visit your doctor regularly. Blood tests will likely be ordered before starting and during treatment, depending on your situation.