Keeping Standards: Current DHHS Treatment Guidelines for First-Time Therapy

A regimen should be individualized on the basis of virologic efficacy (suppression of viral load to less than 50 copies per mL), toxicity, pill burden, dosing frequency, drug-drug interaction potential, drug resistance testing results, and co-morbid conditions (such as kidney disease, hepatitis B or C, etc.). See details about the strength of the recommendations in the DHHS documents online.

Index of abbreviations

Patients new to antiretroviral therapy should start on one of three types of combination regimens:

graphic depicting an NNTRI-Based Regimen, a PI-based regimen, and an INSTI-baes regimen
Preferred Regimens
NNRTI-basedAtripla (EFV1/FTC/TDF)3

Boosted Prezista (DRV/r) (once daily) + Truvada (FTC/TDF)3
Boosted Reyataz (ATV/r) + Truvada (FTC/TDF)3

INSTI-basedIsentress (RAL) + Truvada (FTC/TDF)3
Preferred for Pregnant Women
PI-basedKaletra (LPV/r) (twice daily) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
boosted Reyataz (ATV/r) (once daily) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Alternative Regimens
Based on personal characteristics and needs, in some instances, an alternative regimen may actually be a preferred regimen for an individual.

Complera (RPV/FTC/TDF)3
Edurant (RPV) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4
Sustiva (EFV1 ) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4


Kaletra (LPV/r) (once or twice daily) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4 or Truvada (TDF/FTC)3
Boosted Lexiva (FPV/r) (once or twice daily) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4 or Truvada (FTC/TDF)3
Boosted Prezista (DRV/r) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4
Boosted Reyataz (ATV/r) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4

INSTI-basedIsentress (RAL) + Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4
Other Antiretroviral Regimens
Regimens that may be selected for some patients but are less satisfactory than preferred or alternative regimens.
NNRTI-basedEdurant (RPV) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Sustiva (EFV) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Viramune (NVP2) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3 or Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4 or Truvada (FTC/TDF)3

boosted Invirase (SQV/r) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3, or Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4 or Truvada (FTC/TDF)3,
Kaletra (LPV/r) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Boosted Lexiva (FPV/r) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Boosted Prezista (DRV/r) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Boosted Reyataz (ATV/r) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
Reyataz (ATV) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3 or Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4

INSTI-basedIsentress (RAL) + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3
CCR5 Antagonist-based regimen

Selzentry (MVC)5 + Combivir (3TC/ZDV)3 or Epzicom (ABC/3TC)3,4 or Truvada (FTC/TDF)3

  1. Except during first trimester of pregnancy or in women with high pregnancy potential.
  2. Viramune (nevirapine) should not be initiated in women with CD4+ T-cell count greater than 250 cells/mm3 or in men with CD4+ T-cell count greater than 400 cells/mm3.
  3. Emtriva (emtricitabine) and Epivir (lamivudine) are interchangeable.
  4. ABC should not be used in people who test positive for HLA-B*5701.
  5. MVC may be considered in people who have only CCR5-tropic HIV.


Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Department of Health and Human Services. Section accessed February 6, 2013; Tables 5a and 5b.

Panel on Treatment of HIV-Infected Pregnant Women and Prevention of Perinatal Transmission. Recommendations for Use of Antiretroviral Drugs in Pregnant HIV-1-Infected Women for Maternal Health and Interventions to Reduce Perinatal HIV Transmission in the United States. Accessed February 6, 2013; Table 5.

Drug Class Abbreviations

  • INSTI = integrase strand transfer inhibitor
  • NNRTI = non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor
  • NRTI = nucleos(t)ide reverse transcriptase inhibitor
  • PI = protease inhibitor

Generic Name Abbreviations

  • 3TC = lamivudine
  • ABC = abacavir
  • ATV = atazanavir
  • ddI = didanosine
  • DRV = darunavir
  • EFV =efavirenz
  • FPV = fosamprenavir
  • FTC = emtricitabine
  • LPV = lopinavir
  • MVC = maraviroc
  • NVP = nevirapine
  • RAL = raltegravir
  • r = low-dose ritonavir
  • SQV = saquinavir
  • TDF = tenofovir
  • ZDV = zidovudine

These Combinations Are Among Those Available as Co-Formulated Fixed-Dose Combinations

  • EFV/FTC/TDF (Atripla)
  • 3TC/ZDV (Combivir)
  • RPV/FTC/TDF (Complera)
  • ABC/3TC (Epzicom)
  • LPV/r (Kaletra)
  • EVG/COBI/FTC/TDF (Stribild)
  • FTC/TDF (Truvada)