Recommended HIV Treatment Regimens
Part of HIV and Its Treatment
What is the treatment for HIV?
Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the recommended treatment for HIV. ART involves taking a combination of anti-HIV medications (a regimen) every day. Anti-HIV medications (also called antiretrovirals) are grouped into six drug classes according to how they fight HIV. The six classes are non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), protease inhibitors (PIs), fusion inhibitors, CCR5 antagonists, and integrase inhibitors.
Recommended HIV treatment regimens include three or more anti-HIV medications from at least two different drug classes. Taking a combination of anti-HIV medications from different classes is the most effective way to control the virus. Some anti-HIV medications are available in combination (two or more medications in one pill).
Anti-HIV medications are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). See the FDA-Approved Anti-HIV Medications fact sheet for a complete list of medications used in HIV treatment regimens in the United States.
How will I know which anti-HIV medications to take?
The best combination of anti-HIV medications for you depends on your individual needs. Factors that you and your health care provider will consider when selecting your HIV regimen include:
What are the recommended regimens for people taking anti-HIV medications for the first time?
After considering your individual needs, you and your health care provider may select one of the following regimens recommended for people taking anti-HIV medications for the first time:
Women who are planning on becoming pregnant or are in the first trimester of pregnancy should not use Atripla or Sustiva. (Sustiva, which is one of the medications in Atripla, may cause birth defects that develop during the first few months of pregnancy.) If you are pregnant or expect to become pregnant soon, talk to your health care provider about the benefits and risks of taking anti-HIV medications. (See the "HIV and Pregnancy" fact sheet series for information on HIV treatment regimens for pregnant women.)
Because individual needs vary, these recommended HIV treatment regimens may not be right for everyone. If none of the preferred regimens is right for you, your health care provider will help you select an alternative regimen based on your needs.
Will I have side effects from the anti-HIV medications in my regimen?
Anti-HIV medications can cause side effects. Side effects vary depending on the anti-HIV medication. And people taking the same medication may not have the same side effects. Before starting treatment, discuss possible side effects with your health care provider or pharmacist.
Most side effects from anti-HIV medications are manageable. However, side effects that become unbearable or life threatening call for a change in medications. Side effects that may seem minor, such as fever, nausea, fatigue, or rash, can indicate serious problems. Once you start treatment, always discuss any side effects from your anti-HIV medications with your health care provider.
Interactions between anti-HIV medications and other medications can increase the risk of side effects. Drug interactions can also reduce the effectiveness of anti-HIV medications. (Anti-HIV medications can also have the same effect on other medications.) Always tell your health care provider about other medications you take, including when you switch or stop taking a medication.
For More Information
Contact an AIDSinfo health information specialist at 1-800-448-0440 or visit http://aidsinfo.nih.gov. See your health care provider for medical advice.
This information is based on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents.
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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.
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