Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Medications for AIDS

The medicines below are used to treat and control HIV. Only the most basic problems are listed. Ask your doctor if there are any other steps you need to take. Use each of them as your doctor tells you. If you have any questions or can’t follow the package instructions, call your doctor.

Take the medicines exactly as advised. This is because HIV resistance to medicine can happen if doses are skipped. Work with your doctor to make a plan that best fit your needs. This plan may change as new treatments become available.

Medicines are used in combination. This is called highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). HAART is linked to better health and longer survival in those with HIV.

Prescription Medicines

Protease inhibitors

  • Atazanavir
  • Darunavir
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Indinavir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Nelfinavir
  • Ritonavir
  • Saquinavir
  • Tipranavir

Nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors

  • AZT
  • ddC
  • ddI
  • d4T
  • Abacavir
  • Abacavir and lamivudine
  • Emtricitabine
  • Emtricitabine and tenofovir
  • Lamivudine
  • Tenofovir
  • Zidovudine and lamivudine
  • Zidovudine, lamivudine, and abacavir

Nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors

  • Delavirdine
  • Efavirenz
  • Etravirine
  • Nevirapine
  • Rilpivirine

Fusion inhibitors

  • Enfuvirtide

Integrase inhibitors

  • Dolutegravir
  • Elvitegravir
  • Raltegravir

CCR5 inhibitors

  • Maraviroc

Once a day complete combination pills:

  • Dolutegravir, abacavir, lamivudine
  • Efavirenz, tenofovir, and emtricitabine
  • Elvitegravir, cobicistat, tenofovir, and emtricitabine
  • Rilpivirine, tenofovir, and emtricitabine

Drugs to treat or prevent opportunistic infections

  • Atovaquone
  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir
  • Pentamidine
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Valacyclovir
  • Valganciclovir

Some of the above medicines can be prescribed as one combined pill.

 

Protease Inhibitors

Common names:

  • Atazanavir
  • Darunavir
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Indinavir
  • Lopinavir/ritonavir
  • Nelfinavir
  • Ritonavir
  • Saquinavir
  • Tipranavir

Protease inhibitors interfere with HIV reproduction in the body. This happens during a late stage in the virus life cycle. This slows the growth of HIV.

Side effects may be:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Cholesterol problems
  • Liver injury
  • Gastrointestinal upset
 

Nucleoside and Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors

Common names:

  • AZT
  • ddC
  • ddI
  • d4T
  • Abacavir
  • Abacavir and lamivudine
  • Emtricitabine
  • Emtricitabine and tenofovir
  • Lamivudine
  • Tenofovir
  • Zidovudine and lamivudine
  • Zidovudine, lamivudine, and abacavir

These medicines interfere with HIV reproduction in the body. This happens during an early stage of the virus life cycle. Newer medicines in this class type are well tolerated and are one of the best components of treating HIV.

Side effects depend on the medicine you take. The most common are:

  • Lower numbers of red and white blood cells
  • Nerve damage
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Digestive system upset
  • Headache
  • Kidney failure
  • Life-threatening rashes
 

Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors

Common names:

  • Delavirdine
  • Efavirenz
  • Etravirine
  • Nevirapine
  • Rilpivirine

These medicines interfere with HIV reproduction in the body. This slows the spread of HIV.

Side effects may be:

 

Fusion Inhibitors

Common names include:

  • Enfuvirtide

These will interfere with HIV fusion to certain cell receptors. This slows the spread of HIV.

Side effects may be:

  • Infection site reactions such as itching, swelling, redness, pain or tenderness, hardened skin, bumps, or infection
  • Allergic reactions
 

Integrase Inhibitors

Common names include:

  • Dolutegravir
  • Elvitegravir
  • Raltegravir

These nterfere with the integration of HIV in the nucleus of the cell. This will slow the spread of HIV.

Side effects may be:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Rash
 

CCR5 Inhibitors

Common names include:

  • Maraviroc

These medicines interfere with HIV attachment to certain cell receptors on cells in the body. This slows the spread of HIV.

Possible side effects include:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Liver injury
 

Drugs to Treat or Prevent Opportunistic Infections

Common names include:

  • Atovaquone
  • Foscarnet
  • Ganciclovir
  • Pentamidine
  • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
  • Valacyclovir
  • Valganciclovir

Special Considerations

Medicines don't provide a cure. They are given to lower the effects of the virus. If you have HIV, but don't have symptoms of AIDS, the doctor may have you wait to start medicine therapy until the time is right. Keep in touch with your doctor who will help watch the health of your immune system. Together, you will decide when and how to treat HIV.

If you are taking medicines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Don’t change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Don’t share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine. This includes over-the-counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills as needed.
REFERENCES:

Antiretroviral therapy in adults and adolescents with HIV infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115311/Antiretroviral-therapy-in-adults-and-adolescents-with-HIV-infection. Updated September 13, 2018. Accessed September 18, 2018.

Guide for HIV/AIDS clinical care. National Institute of Health and Human Services website. Available at: https://hab.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hab/clinical-quality-management/2014guide.pdf. Updated April 2014. Accessed September 18, 2018.

HIV and AIDS. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/hiv-and-aids.html. Updated April 1, 2014. Accessed September 18, 2018.

HIV treatment. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/livingwithhiv/treatment.html. Updated August 27, 2018. Accessed September 18, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 9/17/2018