What medication is used to treat hiv?

As we all know, HIV is a serious virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). But fear not! We live in an era where medical technology has evolved beyond our wildest dreams, and yes folks, there are medications available for the treatment of this dreadful disease.

In this article, we’ll explore the various drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS with a sprinkle of humor. So sit tight as I take you on a wild ride through antiretroviral therapy (ART) land!

Let’s Get This Show On The Road: A Brief Overview

Before diving deep into medication specifics, let’s kick things off with some basics. First and foremost – what exactly does ART stand for? It stands for antiretroviral therapy.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me give you a quick overview of how ART works. Antiretrovirals (ARVs) work by inhibiting viral replication in different stages of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) life cycle within infected cells or specifically targeting certain components necessary for viral maintenance.

There are three main categories that ARV therapies fall under:

  • Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
  • Protease Inhibitors

Don’t worry if these terms sound like gibberish at first glance; I will cover each separately later on.

The Early Days: Monotherapy

Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth or more realistically 1980s/1990s monotherapy was the equivalent approach utilized back then against HIV/ AIDS virus using only one drug from any given class be it nucleosides/nucleotides reverse transcriptase inhibitors( NRTIs), non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors(NNRTIs), protease inhibitors (PIs), or entry inhibitors. Unfortunately, this one-drug approach proved ineffective as the virus mutated and became resistant quickly.

The Modern Era: Combination Therapy

The current treatment for HIV in 2021 involves a combination of ARVs from different classes to target the virus on multiple fronts. This mixture of medicines seeks to prevent drug resistance and maximize viral suppression by blocking the several stages involved during each cycle of replication inception, integration and budding-out process.

Let’s take a look at the current medication options available under each category:

Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

These are drugs responsible for nipping transcription in newly infected human cells containing HIV particles inhibiting formation of DNA chains that constitute new copies using building blocks known as nucleotides/nucleosides. Some examples are:

  • Abacavir
  • Didanosine
  • Emtricitabine
  • Stavudine
  • Tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF)/ Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate(TDF)
    • The TAF/TDF combo will be familiar to those taking pre-exposure prophylaxis(PrEP) medication

Each has its unique mechanism(s) but essentially provides even more obscure names such as triphosphate derivatives which is good news for confidentiality winks.

Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors(NNRTIs)

Just as hinted by their name NNRTIs work like antagonists stopping reverse transcriptase activity used by retroviral RNA genome converting them into double-stranded cDNA copy within host cells thus preventing any further duplication. For now you need remember only couple followings regularly in use today among others:




Noticing any typos? Don’t press that backspace button yet. I’m just testing to see who’s still following along…Ahem!

Continuing on, NNRTIs have caused some issues in terms of side effects such as drowsiness and headaches but at least with Efaveirenz there are a host of ‘fun’ misconceptions that arise during ingestion one might feel akin to experimental astronaut for example weighing approximately 1000lbs or more.

Protease Inhibitors (PIs)

As the name suggests these drugs impede virus activity by obstructing viral protease action crucial for budding of new clones gathering from already infected cells. Some examples include:

  • Atazanavir
  • Darunavir
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Indinavir

These medications can be quite helpful in combating infection. That being said, they too come with their own set of surprises which may cause you some distress if you’re not prepared! One prime example is an incomplete flush, so don’t be taken by surprise when your cheeks become rosy after taking this medication.

Final Thoughts

When living with HIV/AIDS it is highly advisable to take antiretroviral therapy (ART) used consistently and properly without pauses as directed under supervision regularly monitoring lab values during courses. Combined treatments tailored specifically to individual patients would help optimize management while adopting a lifestyle healthy enough for ultimate positive outcomes supplementary mental health included.

Let me leave you guys, fellas,’ gals and gender-nonconforming friends(hi y’all!) out there something witty: ART itself isn’t bad; what’s really bad about it are the rashes many develop after starting treatment! Wow updating my Twitter bio should now say Comedian AND Virologist!

So stay informed folks….over & out!

  • Incomplete flush refers to excessive heat sensations experienced around various parts of human anatomy without actually breaking into a sweat after Pi intake – symptoms usually subside on their own within 1-2 hours though sometimes accompanied by mild headaches most especially after Integrase Inhibitors(INIs)/Fusion or Entry inhibitors.

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