HIV MedicationsNorvir

Norvir (Ritonavir) for HIV Treatment: Everything You Need to Know

illustration of larger-than-life Norvir bottle alongside a person holding a massive Norvir pill
Lily Fulop

    Frequently Asked QuestionsNorvir (Ritonavir)

    What is Norvir used for?

    Norvir, also known as ritonavir, is a medication used for the treatment of HIV. It was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996 as part of a comprehensive antiretroviral treatment regimen.

    How does Norvir work?

    Norvir belongs to a group of HIV medications called protease inhibitors. These medications work by blocking the protein that helps the final stage of HIV copying itself to make new virus after it attacks our immune-system cells.

    I’ve heard that Norvir is a “booster” HIV medication—what does that mean?

    Norvir is primarily used as a “booster” medication, which means it increases and prolongs levels of other protease inhibitors in the body, making them more effective and/or easier to take.

    How often is Norvir taken?

    Norvir is most commonly taken by mouth once a day, with another protease inhibitor, with food.

    Does Norvir have any side effects I should worry about?

    Norvir has had a history of causing stomach issues, including abdominal pain, gas, belching, and diarrhea. These symptoms were more common and severe when it was given in higher doses as primary HIV treatment. They are less likely in its current “boosted” dosing, but still can be present.

    David Malebranche, M.D., M.P.H.

    David Malebranche, M.D., M.P.H.

    David Malebranche, M.D., M.P.H., is a black same-gender-loving educator, author, activist, and internal medicine physician. He co-hosts the YouTube series 'Revolutionary Health' as part of The Counter Narrative Project and also appears on the #AskTheHIVDoc video series.