Back to contents

Anti-HIV drugs

Greta Hughson

This booklet is a starting point for anyone who wants to find out about treatments for HIV. It provides information about the drugs used – known as antiretroviral drugs. 

The booklet has been written to help you decide what questions to ask your doctor about any course of treatment you might be considering. It should not replace discussions with your doctor.

Information in this booklet has been reviewed by a panel of medical experts, and includes information on issues such as side-effects and drug interactions (with anti-HIV drugs and other drugs). For full details of side-effects and drug interactions, see the information leaflets that are produced by drug manufacturers and included in the drug’s packaging.

The booklet includes information on drugs that have been licensed in the UK or European Union and are recommended for prescription by the British HIV Association. This information was correct at the time of going to press (July 2014).

The previous edition is also available online in French, German, Spanish and Polish.

  • The aim of HIV treatment

    HIV is a virus that attacks the the body’s defence against infection and illness – the immune system. If you have HIV, you can take drugs to...

  • When to start treatment

    In the UK, standards for HIV treatment and care are set and monitored by the British HIV Association (BHIVA), the professional association for HIV doctors and other...

  • Talking to your doctor

    Taking antiretroviral therapy is a long-term commitment. At present, once you start the drugs, you are likely to be on them for the rest of your life....

  • How anti-HIV drugs are dispensed

    You will get a prescription for your HIV treatment, when you attend your regular HIV clinic appointment, which you take to either the specialist HIV pharmacy (in...

  • Generic medicines

    Pharmaceutical drugs are given several names:  A research name based on its chemical make-up or manufacturer, e.g. DMP266.  A generic name which is the chemical name of the...

  • Types of antiretroviral drugs

    There are six main types (‘classes’) of antiretroviral drugs:  Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NtRTIs), which target an HIV protein called reverse transcriptase. These are often...

  • Single-tablet regimens

    There are now fixed-dose pills that combine three anti-HIV drugs, from more than one class of drug. These allow many people to take their HIV treatment in...

  • Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs/NtRTIs)

    Most people now take these drugs in a fixed-dose pill that combines a number of drugs. These combination pills are listed first and there are also separate...

  • Integrase inhibitors

    Names: Dolutegravir, Tivicay  Dose: One yellow 50mg tabletonce a day. Dolutegravir should be taken twice a day if taken with efavirenz, nevirapine or tipranavir, or for HIV known...

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)

    Names: Efavirenz, Sustiva  Approved dosage: Efavirenz is available as a generic drug, so its appearance will depend on which type your clinic buys. Efavirenz typically comes as 600mg...

  • Protease inhibitors (PIs)

    Most protease inhibitors are prescribed with another drug (also a protease inhibitor) called ritonavir. Ritonavir is used to boost the effects of the other protease inhibitor in...

  • Fusion inhibitors

    There is currently one drug in the fusion inhibitor class, called enfuvirtide (T-20, Fuzeon). This is now only prescribed in very rare and specific circumstances. Anyone on...

  • CCR5 inhibitors

    Names: Maraviroc, Celsentri  Approved dosage: The dose of maraviroc is dependent on the other anti-HIV drugs you take. Your HIV doctor or pharmacist will talk to you...

  • Summary

    Combination HIV treatment prevents HIV from damaging your immune system, and so prevents ill health and prolongs...

Anti-HIV drugs

Published July 2014

Last reviewed July 2014

Next review July 2015

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

Anti-HIV drugs chart

Our full-colour drugs chart contains pictures of the drugs and summary information about them.

Download the anti-HIV drugs chart >
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.