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Anti-HIV drugs

Keith Alcorn, Greta Hughson

This booklet is a starting point for anyone who wants to find out about treatments for HIV. It provides information about the drugs used – known as antiretroviral drugs or antiretroviral therapy (ART).

The booklet has been written to help you decide what questions to ask your doctor about any course of treatment you might be considering. It should not replace discussions with your doctor.

Information in this booklet has been reviewed by a panel of medical experts, and includes information on issues such as side-effects and drug interactions (with other antiretroviral drugs and drugs used for other conditions). For full details of side-effects and drug interactions, see the information leaflets that are produced by drug manufacturers and included in the drug’s packaging.

The booklet includes information on drugs that have been licensed in the UK or European Union and are recommended for prescription by the British HIV Association (BHIVA). This information was correct at the time of going to press (March 2018).

Thank you to the people living with HIV and members of our medical review panel for their assistance in reviewing this booklet: Celesta Riddles, Directorate pharmacist – HIV services, Ealing Hospital; Chris Birch; Jeremy; Dr Rachael Jones, Lead clinician, West London Centre for Sexual Health, Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Rosy Weston, Senior lead pharmacist for sexual health and HIV, St Mary’s Hospital, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Shema Doshi, Principal pharmacist sexual health, Caldecot Centre, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Silma Shah, Highly specialist pharmacist – HIV/GUM, Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Susanna Gilmour-White, Specialist pharmacist, Caldecot Centre, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Tristan Barber, Consultant physician, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.

All pharmaceutical companies that provided product information: AbbVie, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead Sciences, Janssen, Merck, Sharp and Dohme and ViiV Healthcare.

  • The aim of HIV treatment

    HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s defence against infection and illness – the immune system. If you are living with HIV, you can take drugs...

  • When to start treatment

    Until recently, doctors weren’t sure of the best time to start HIV treatment. In 2015 a large, well-conducted study demonstrated that there are advantages to starting treatment as...

  • Talking to your doctor

    Taking antiretroviral therapy is a long-term commitment. At present, once you start the drugs, you are likely to be on them for the rest of your life. ...

  • How anti-HIV drugs are dispensed

    GPs are not able to prescribe antiretroviral drugs, and there are specialist HIV and sexual health clinics in most areas around the country. You will get a prescription...

  • Generic medicines

    Pharmaceutical drugs are given several names:A research name based on its chemical make-up or manufacturer, e.g. FTCA generic name which is...

  • Types of antiretroviral drugs

    There are six main types (‘classes’) of antiretroviral drugs. Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NtRTIs), which target an HIV protein called reverse transcriptase. These...

  • Nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs/NtRTIs)

    These drugs may be available either as single agents or as part of a fixed-dose combination tablet. ...

  • Integrase inhibitors

    Names: Dolutegravir, DTG, Tivicay Approved dosage: Take one yellow 50mg tablet once a day. Dolutegravir should be taken twice a day if you have HIV known to be...

  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs)

    Names: Efavirenz, EFV Approved dosage: Efavirenz is available as a generic drug, so its appearance will depend on which type your clinic dispenses. Efavirenz typically comes as 600mg...

  • Protease inhibitors

    Most protease inhibitors are prescribed with another drug (also a protease inhibitor) called ritonavir or an alternative boosting agent cobicistat. These drugs are both used to boost the...

  • Boosting agents

    Names: Cobicistat, Tybost Approved dosage: Cobicistat is a boosting agent available as a 150mg tablet (Tybost) for boosting of darunavir or atazanavir, or incorporated in several products: Evotaz (atazanavir/cobicistat)Rezolsta...

  • CCR5 inhibitors

    Names: Maraviroc, MVC, Celsentri Approved dosage: The dose of maraviroc is dependent on the other anti-HIV drugs you take. Your HIV doctor or pharmacist will talk to you...

  • Single-tablet regimens

    There are some fixed-dose pills that combine three antiretroviral drugs from more than one drug class. These allow many people to take their HIV treatment in one...

  • Summary

    Combination HIV treatment prevents HIV from damaging your immune system, and so prevents ill health and prolongs...

Anti-HIV drugs

Published June 2018

Last reviewed June 2018

Next review June 2021

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

We are grateful to Wandsworth Oasis for funding the development of this resource. Our funders have had no editorial control over the content.

Anti-HIV drugs chart

Our full-colour drugs chart contains pictures of the drugs and summary information about them.

Download the anti-HIV drugs chart >
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.