HIV/AIDS Drugs Overview
is a serious lifelong disease that affects approximately 1.1 million people in the
United States, according to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
a type of infection that weakens the immune system. As a sexually transmitted
disease, it can spread from person to person through contact with semen or
vaginal secretions. Having unprotected sex with an infected partner is one way
to become infected with the virus. The virus can also spread through contact
with infected blood. So, having a blood transfusion and sharing needles with an
infected person increases your risk. The blood supply is carefully screened for
possible infectious agents like viruses.
Transfusion remains a way to be infected, but it’s very unlikely to
contract HIV through a blood transfusion today.
there’s no cure for HIV. If left untreated, the virus can progress and develop
into AIDS in about 10 years on average, according to the Mayo
Howver, even if you're infected with the virus, it's possible to live an
active, symptom-free life. The key is receiving an early diagnosis and getting
treatment to stop the virus from multiplying.
think you've been exposed to HIV, a blood test can check your blood for HIV
antibodies or a protein created by the virus. Testing is the one way to know
whether you've been infected with the virus. HIV may cause few or no symptoms
in the early stages. Talk to your doctor or local clinic about testing and
possible treatment options.
diagnosis may be devastating and frightening, but you can enjoy a longer,
healthier life with treatment. If you are infected by HIV, you will probably
have to take antiretroviral therapy (ART) for the rest of your life.
there are five classes of drugs approved for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. These
medications interfere with specific parts of the HIV life cycle. These drugs
don’t destroy the virus, but they can slow the progression of HIV and delay or
even prevent an AIDS diagnosis.
Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase
was the first class of drugs available for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. These powerful
medications block reverse transcriptase, which is an enzyme that replicates the
genetic material of viruses such as HIV. Blocking this enzyme stops HIV from
making copies of its genetic material (RNA). Drugs within this class include:
Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
in this class also block reverse transcriptase action. They do this by attaching
to and modifying this enzyme in a way different than the NRTIs. The end result is the same, which stops HIV
from replicating its genetic material. NNRTI drugs include:
Protease Inhibitors (PIs)
medications block HIV-protease, which is a critical enzyme for the production
of new copies of HIV. Taking this drug stops HIV from multiplying and reduces
the level of virus in your blood. Protease inhibitor medications include:
Fusion and Entry Inhibitors
classes of antiviral medication stop HIV from entering healthy CD4 cells, which
are both important cells for normal immune function in the body as well as the
primary target cells for HIV infection. These drugs include enfuviritide
(Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
the newer classes of antiviral drugs used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, these medications
block HIV-integrase, an enzyme that inserts the genetic material of HIV into the
DNA of the infected cell. This stops the virus from multiplying and spreading
to other cells. These drugs include dolutegravir (Tivicay) and raltegravir
HIV/AIDS Medication Risks
about every medication has risks or side effects. Antiviral medications that
treat HIV/AIDS are no exception. Side effects of these drugs vary by person and
depend on the type of medication. Common side effects may include:
side effects are temporary and gradually go away. You may experience long-term
side effects like a decrease in bone density or abnormal blood sugar levels.
used to treat HIV and AIDS may also interfere with medicines taken for other
health conditions, thus either reducing the drugs’ effectiveness or causing an
entirely unwanted side effect.
the major problems with HIV medications is that some people eventually develop
strains of HIV that are resistant to one or more of the antiretroviral drugs. A
way to reduce the risk of this occurring is giving the drugs in combinations of
three or more. These combinations help stop HIV’s ability to replicate and
decrease the likelihood that the virus will become resistant. It’s important
that HIV patients always take all of their antiviral medications on schedule,
every day. Failure to do so may lead to
the development of resistance. Sometimes the virus will become resistant to an
entire category of drug, not just one of those you had been taking.
for HIV has made enormous strides over the past 30 years. However, it remains
complex and requires much attention from people undergoing the treatment and
their doctors. HIV is controllable with current therapies, but it is not
curable. This means that despite treatment, HIV may eventually continue to
multiply and progress to AIDS.
HIV/AID Medication Conclusion
order to control HIV and stop the virus from multiplying, your doctor may
prescribe a combination of antiviral medications. It’s important that you
follow your doctor's treatment plan and take medication as prescribed.
also need to complete follow-up testing as recommended by your doctor. This
will include testing the number of T cells in your blood (CD4 count) and the
amount of virus in your blood (viral load). These numbers let your doctor know
whether medication is working to suppress the virus.