ART is made up of a combination (or ‘cocktail’) of different anti-HIV drugs, each of which attacks the virus in a different way or at a different stage in its life cycle, making it the most effective HIV treatment at present.
Your healthcare provider will monitor your CD4 count and the viral load in your blood and will amend your treatment accordingly. It is essential to take this medication exactly as prescribed to avoid developing drug resistance and to remain healthy for as long as possible.
Everyone with HIV infection, regardless of CD4 count, is usually offered antiviral medication.
You should definitely begin treatment if:
- You have severe symptoms
- You have an opportunistic infection
- Your CD4 count is under 350
- You’re pregnant
- You have HIV-related kidney disease
- You’re being treated for hepatitis B.
Classes of anti-HIV drugs include:
- Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs): NNRTIs disable a protein needed by HIV to make copies of itself. Examples include efavirenz (Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence) and nevirapine (Viramune).
- Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs): NRTIs are faulty versions of building blocks that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include Abacavir (Ziagen), and the combination drugs emtricitabine and tenofovir (Truvada), and lamivudine and zidovudine (Combivir).
- Protease inhibitors (PIs): PIs disable protease, another protein that HIV needs to make copies of itself. Examples include atazanavir (Reyataz), darunavir (Prezista), fosamprenavir (Lexiva) and ritonavir (Norvir).
- Entry or fusion inhibitors: These drugs block HIV’s entry into CD4 cells. Examples include enfuvirtide (Fuzeon) and maraviroc (Selzentry).
- Integrase inhibitors: Raltegravir (Isentress) works by disabling integrase, a protein that HIV uses to insert its genetic material into CD4 cells.
How Clicks Clinics can help you
Are you worried that you may have contracted HIV? Clicks Clinics offers HIV testing and counselling.
To make an appointment at a Clicks Clinic, call 0860 254 257 or visit Clinics online.