For the past 15 years, three HIV drug classes have dominated the treatment scene: NNRTIs (such as Sustiva), NRTIs (such as Viread) and protease inhibitors (such as Reyataz). Although drugs from other classes have been approved (fusion inhibitors, CCR5 inhibitors and the like), when it came to choosing what meds to start HIV treatment with, the answer almost always incorporated drugs from two or all three of these classes.
Then the integrase inhibitors came.
The latest update to the U.S.'s official HIV treatment guidelines was published on Oct. 30; the update solidified the place of this newer drug class as a first-line treatment option that's just as solid as the "big three." Isentress (raltegravir), Tivicay (dolutegravir) and elvitegravir (part of the recently approved all-in-one pill Stribild) are the vanguards of the integrase inhibitor class, which generally has proven to be at least as effective as the most popular drugs from other classes, but with fewer side effect risks on the whole.
To be sure, these drugs aren't perfect -- no HIV meds are -- but the treatment picture in 2013 looks better, with more great options, than it's ever looked before.
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