All people living with HIV are recommended to receive appropriate treatment. Antiretroviral therapy cannot cure HIV, but it can control the virus, thus you can live a longer, healthier life and avoid transmitting HIV to others.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART)
HIV is treated using a combination of medicines to fight HIV infection. This is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART involves taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day, exactly as prescribed. ART cannot help you get rid of HIV, but it can lengthen and better your life as well as reduce the risk of HIV transmission.
These HIV medicines prevent HIV from multiplying. Thus these antiviral medicines reduce the amount of HIV in your body. Therefore, ART declines the virus load. When HIV are restrained, your immune system has a chance to recover and fight off infections and cancers. Although there is still some HIV, your body is strong enough to protect itself from infections and cancer. By reducing the amount of HIV in your body, HIV medicines also reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.
ART is recommended for all people with HIV, regardless of how long they’ve had the virus or how healthy they are. Regardless of how long the virus has penetrated in the body or how healthy HIV people are, they still need special treatment. If left untreated, HIV will attack the immune system and eventually progress to AIDS.
Types of ART medications
The main types of antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV treatment include:
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) such as zidovudine (Retrovir®), abacavir (Ziagen®), and emtricitabine (Emtriva®), can block one of the enzymes that HIV needs to replicate itself in a cell.
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) such as efavirenz (Sustiva®), etravirine (Intelence®), and nevirapine (Viramune®), target the same enzyme as NRTIs, but with a different chemical structure.
- Protease inhibitors (PIs) such as atazanavir (Reyataz®), ritonavir (Norvir®), and tipranavir (Aptivus®), stop the production of one component of HIV. Entry inhibitors can block the entry of HIV into CD4 cells. This kind of drug includes 2 small divisions. The first one is CCR5 antagonists (also called entry inhibitors), such as maraviroc (Selzentry®), which blocks CCR5, a receptor protein on the surface of CD4 cells (immune system cells) that the virus binds to in order to enter the cell. The second one is fusion inhibitors, such as enfuvirtide (Fuzeon®), which also blocks HIV’s ability to enter CD4 cells.
- Integrase inhibitors such as dolutegravir (Tivicay®), elvitegravir (Vitekta®), and raltegravir (Isentress®), block HIV from inserting its viral DNA into host cells.
Most HIV treatment regimens consist of three different drugs, which often can be combined into a single daily pill. Each type of combination antiretroviral therapy strikes the HIV virus at a different stage of its life cycle. These drugs create a synergistic effect in suppressing the virus that is greater than the sum of its parts.
AIDS is caused by HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus, which damages the body’s defense system. Antiretroviral therapy drugs for HIV can decrease the risk of transmission in all types of exposure. However, it doesn’t always work. Consult your doctor for more information.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017
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