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Anti-HIV drugs

Keith Alcorn, Selina Corkery

This booklet is a starting point for anyone who wants to know about treatments for HIV. It provides basic information about the drugs that fight HIV – known as antiretroviral drugs – and deals briefly with dosing, side-effects, drug interactions and drug resistance. 

Information contained in this booklet has been reviewed by a panel of medical experts. For full details of side-effects and drug interactions, see the product information leaflets that are produced by drug manufacturers for each drug.

This information was correct at the time of going to press (March 2012). The booklet includes information on drugs which have been licensed in the UK or European Union and are recommended for prescription by the British HIV Association.  

The booklet has been written to help you decide what questions to ask your doctor about any course of treatment you might be considering. We don’t intend it to replace discussion with your doctor about your treatment.

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

  • HIV and anti-HIV drugs

    HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system – the body’s defence system against infection and illness. 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, or BHIVA, the professional association for HIV doctors and...

  • The importance of regular check-ups

    If you have HIV, you should see a doctor regularly for a check-up. Most people with HIV attend sexual health clinics or specialist HIV clinics that have...

  • Preparing to start your HIV treatment

    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....

  • Taking your HIV treatment

    It is very important not to miss doses of your anti-HIV drugs and to take them exactly as prescribed. If you miss doses, or you do not...

  • Drug interactions

    Taking two or more different drugs together may result in an alteration in the effectiveness or in the side-effects of one or more of the drugs. Some...

  • HIV treatment and pregnancy

    Antiretroviral drugs are used during pregnancy as an effective means of preventing the transmission of HIV from a mother to her baby. Increasingly, evidence suggests that HIV treatment...

  • 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...

  • Names of anti-HIV drugs

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

  • Triple-drug combination pills

    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...

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)

    Names: Efavirenz, Sustiva  Approved dosage: One dark-yellow 600mg tablet once a day or three dark-yellow 200mg capsules once a day. Efavirenz is also available in a combination tablet with...

  • 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 T-20 (enfuvirtide, 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...

  • Integrase inhibitors

    Names: Raltegravir, Isentress  Dose: One pink 400mg tablet twice daily.  Tips on taking it: Take with or without food.  Important warning: An allergic (hypersensitivity) reaction has been reported in...

  • Summary

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

Anti-HIV drugs

Published March 2012

Last reviewed March 2012

Next review December 2014

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.