Although there is currently no cure for HIV, a range of medications can control the condition. People with HIV take combinations of medicines. These regimens help them lead longer and healthier lives.

This article provides a list of medications that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have currently approved. We also give information about choosing an appropriate HIV regimen.

How HIV medications work

There are a variety of medications that can control HIV.

HIV medications primarily work by stopping the virus from replicating.

The virus attacks the immune system by invading and killing the white blood cells that play an important role in this system.

After invading a white blood cell, the virus uses it to replicate itself. This allows HIV to spread. The immune system begins to weaken as this happens, leaving the person more susceptible to infection.

A class of drugs called antiretroviral medications, or antiretrovirals, can stop the virus from replicating. This helps protect the immune system, allowing people with HIV to lead long, productive lives.

Types of HIV medication

The refers to the replication and spread of the virus throughout the body. There are seven classes of antiretrovirals, each of which target HIV at a different stage of its life cycle.

A of this medication is to reduce a person‘s viral load, or the amount of the virus in the blood, to an undetectable level.

An undetectable viral load indicates that a person‘s HIV medications are working effectively to keep the virus under control.

The following currently have approval by the FDA.

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)

stop HIV from replicating. They do this by binding to and altering an enzyme called reverse transcriptase, which HIV uses to replicate.

The list of NNRTIs :

Generic name Brand name doravirine Pifeltro efavirenz Sustiva etravirine Intelence nevirapine Viramune, Viramune XR rilpivirine Edurant

Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs)

These drugs work in a similar way as the NNRTIs above: by preventing HIV from replicating. This reduces the viral load of HIV within a person‘s body.

The list of NRTIs :

Generic name Brand name abacavir Ziagen emtricitabine Emtriva lamivudine Epivir tenofovir disoproxil
fumarate Viread zidovudine Retrovir

Protease inhibitors (PIs)

Developing HIV cells use an enzyme called protease to mature and replicate. Protease enables the virus to spread to other cells within the body.

bind to and block this enzyme, thereby preventing HIV from replicating.

of PIs include:

Generic name Brand name atazanavir Reyataz darunavir Prezista fosamprenavir Lexiva ritonavir Norvir saquinavir Invirase tipranavir Aptivus

Fusion inhibitors

To replicate successfully, HIV must enter a cell, in a process called fusion. are drugs that prevent HIV from entering the cells.

is one fusion inhibitor, and it has the brand name Fuzeon.

CCR5 antagonists

To enter a cell, HIV must first bind to a special receptor on the cell‘s surface. One of these receptors is the CCR5 coreceptor.

are drugs that block the CCR5 coreceptor, preventing HIV from attaching to and entering the white blood cell. For this reason, doctors refer to CCR5 antagonists as entry inhibitors.

is an example of a CCR5 antagonist, and it is available under the brand name Selzentry.

Post-attachment inhibitors

are another type of entry inhibitor. These drugs block two kinds of receptor on the surface of white blood cells: the CCR5 and CXCR4 coreceptors.

As with CCR5 antagonists, these drugs prevent HIV from entering the cells, thereby preventing the virus from replicating.

is a post-attachment inhibitor available under the brand name Trogarzo.

Integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs)

After entering a white blood cell, HIV can replicate by inserting, or integrating, its DNA into that of the cell.

This process relies on an enzyme called integrase.

disable the effects of integrase, thereby preventing HIV from inserting its DNA into the host cell. As a result, HIV is unable to make copies of itself.

of INSTIs include:

Generic name Brand name dolutegravir Tivicay raltegravir Isentress, Isentress HD

Pharmacokinetic enhancers

are not antiretrovirals, but they may complement antiretroviral therapy.

These drugs can boost the effects of some HIV medications.

is the generic name of a pharmacokinetic enhancer available under the brand name Tybost.

Combination HIV medicines

A person with a recent HIV diagnosis will usually start treatment by taking a combination of HIV medications.

This usually includes three HIV medicines from two or more classes of drug, all contained within a single pill.

There are many different single-pill drug combinations available. A person should discuss the best combination for their requirements with a healthcare provider.

Choosing an HIV regimen

A person‘s healthcare provider will identify the most suitable medication.

The healthcare provider will work with a person to choose an HIV regimen that best meets their needs.

As part of this process, the healthcare provider may recommend . This procedure identifies medications that may not be effective in treating a person‘s HIV.

A healthcare provider may also take into account when recommending an HIV regimen:

  • whether the person is pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant
  • whether the person has other medical conditions, such as
  • possible side effects of HIV medications
  • potential drug with other medications and supplements
  • any issues that may make it difficult to take HIV medications consistently, such as a busy schedule, a lack of , or alcohol and drug use
  • the cost of the HIV medications


Antiretroviral medications cannot cure HIV, but they can help protect a person‘s immune system.

When choosing an appropriate regimen, work closely with a healthcare provider to identify the most appropriate combination of HIV medications.


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