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HIV and AIDS medication

HIV and AIDS medication
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HIV and AIDS medication (antiretrovirals)

There is no cure for HIV and AIDS, but medicines can help. Many people with HIV live long and relatively healthy lives.

HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) damages your immune system by attacking blood cells that help fight infection.

Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the condition that develops when HIV progresses.

The medications used to fight HIV are called antiretrovirals. They work to stop the virus multiplying. This helps to protect your immune system from damage caused by HIV.

The medications used to treat HIV and AIDS may be similar.

If your immune system has already been damaged, treatment can help stop further damage and even allow the immune system to partly repair itself.

Types of antiretrovirals

Types of antiretrovirals include:

  • nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • fusion inhibitors
  • protease inhibitors
  • integrase inhibitors.

Usually a person with HIV will be prescribed a few different antiretrovirals at the same time. This is known as combination therapy.

As well as antiretrovirals treatment can include drugs to guard against infections as your immune system may no longer be able to fight them.

When will I get treated with antiretrovirals?

Your doctor will talk to you and ask you to have blood tests to help determine if you need treatment, whether your treatment is working or if it needs to be changed.

These tests include viral load (the level of HIV in a small amount of your blood) and a CD4 cell count. CD4 is the type of cell that is affected by HIV.

Important information about antiretrovirals

What are the side effects of antiretrovirals?

People who use antiretrovirals can have side effects such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, liver or kidney damage, bleeding, anaemia, sleep problems, nausea, loss of appetite and rash.

Another possible side effect is resistance to medication, which means the medication isn’t working as well as it should.

You can lower the chance of resistance to medication by choosing effective medication, by not missing doses and by using a combination of medications instead of just one.

Please tell your doctor if you have any symptoms you are concerned about rather than stopping your medication on your own.

How long does treatment take?

Most people who start taking antiretrovirals take them for life.

Last reviewed: August 2015

Recommended links

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Antiretroviral Therapy (Anti-HIV Drugs) | myVMC

Antiretrovirals (ARVs) are the cornerstone of HIV/AIDS management, as there is currently no cure nor vaccine available for HIV.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

When to start treatment

Information for people with HIV who are considering when to start antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Read more on AFAO – Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations website

NRTIs (Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors) | myVMC

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the cornerstone of treating the HIV infection. Nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) try to inhibit the key viral enzyme reverse transcriptase, responsible for incorporating the virus into the human DNA strand.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

NNRTIs (Non-Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors) | myVMC

Antiretrovirals are the best available treatment for HIV. Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) are one of four main classes of antiretrovirals.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Aptivus Capsules - myDr.com.au

Aptivus Capsules - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

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3TC | myVMC

3TC contains lamivudine, a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor used in combination antiretroviral treatment of HIV infection.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Lamivudine + Zidovudine Alphapharm Tablets - myDr.com.au

Lamivudine + Zidovudine Alphapharm Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

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Combivir Tablets - myDr.com.au

Combivir Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

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Descovy 200/25 mg Tablets - myDr.com.au

Descovy 200/25 mg Tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

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PIs (Protease Inhibitors) | myVMC

Protease inhibitors (PIs) act on the HIV viral enzyme protease, which is responsible for assembling new virus particles. Blocking viral protease slows the production and release of these new virus particles that infect other immune cells.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

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