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Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Antiretroviral medicines for HIV
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Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.
The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
These medicines are used to treat HIV. They reduce the amount of virus in your body (viral load). This helps keep your immune system healthy and helps you live longer. The medicines also help prevent HIV from becoming AIDS.
These medicines are used as part of antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART combines several of these medicines to help treat HIV. The use of three or more of these medicines is the standard treatment. This is sometimes called an anti-HIV "cocktail."
Here are some examples of antiretrovirals. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.
Two or more medicines may be combined into one pill. This list does not include any of these combined medicines.
Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (nucleoside analogs)
Nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
Protease inhibitors (PIs)
Entry and fusion inhibitors
This is not a complete list.
When you combine these medicines, HIV slows down. The virus is slower to make copies of itself (multiply) in the body. This allows your immune system to stay healthy.
Some people feel sick to their stomach when they take these medicines. They may have belly pain or vomit. Some people have diarrhea. They may also feel tired or dizzy.
General information about side effects
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Cautions for antiretrovirals include the following:
General cautions for all medicines
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Current as of:
February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicinePeter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Current as of: February 11, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Peter Shalit MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
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