AIDS Home > Specific Drugs Used for HIV

Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
This group of medications includes the following AIDS drugs:


NNRTIs work similarly to NRTIs. However, NNRTIs do not trick the reverse transcriptase enzyme into using the medication as a DNA building block. Instead, they bind directly to reverse transcriptase, preventing it from making DNA at all.
Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NtRTIs)
At this time, there is only one NtRTI drug on the market, tenofovir (Viread®). It works exactly the same as NRTIs. In fact, the names for the two classes of AIDS drugs are so similar that these medications are often confused for each other. The only real difference is in the chemical structures of these HIV medications.
Protease Inhibitors
This is a large class of medications that is important for AIDS treatment. These medications for HIV include:
These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply. Once inside an infected cell, the HIV virus uses the cell to make DNA to make new HIV viruses that can spread to other cells. The DNA is made into long strands that must be clipped into shorter, usable strands using enzymes called proteases.
Protease inhibitors work by stopping protease enzymes from clipping DNA into shorter strands. Because the long, unclipped DNA strands cannot be used to make new viruses, this helps stop the spread of HIV to uninfected cells.
Ritonavir (Norvir) is a unique medication in this class. It is not usually used for its antiviral properties. Instead, it is used to "boost" other HIV medications (usually other protease inhibitors). This means that it is used to increase the level of other medications in the blood, making them more effective.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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