HIV Medications

Several different classes of medications for HIV are available. These classes are divided into seven different groups and include NRTIs, NNRTIs, NtRTIs, protease inhibitors, entry inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, and combination medications. In most cases, people with HIV or AIDS use medications from several of these classes. Using a combination of medications helps to prevent the HIV virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs.

An Overview of Medications for HIV and AIDS

A number of drugs have been approved for the treatment of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and AIDS. These medications fall into a number of different groups, or "classes," of HIV drugs. Most people with HIV or AIDS take medications from several of these classes.
Current research is focused on finding new HIV medicines, particularly medicines that can work in new ways. Because the HIV virus can mutate rapidly, it often becomes resistant to available medications, which is why finding new types of drugs is so important.

The Different Classes of HIV Drug Treatments

The available classes of medications for HIV include the following:
  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)
  • Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NtRTIs)
  • Protease inhibitors
  • Entry inhibitors, including fusion inhibitors
  • Integrase inhibitors
  • Combination medications from different classes.
Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
The first HIV drug discovered, zidovudine (Retrovir®), is an NRTI. Other NRTIs include:
These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. Like other viruses, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is a little different from other viruses because it must first convert its genetic material from RNA to DNA. It is the DNA genes that allow HIV to multiply.
HIV alters its genetic material by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building-blocks.
An NRTI medication works by tricking reverse transcriptase into thinking it is one of these molecular building blocks. However, it is just different enough that when used to create DNA, NRTIs actually stop the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.

HIV Information

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