HIV/AIDS

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What kinds of drugs are available?

for Veterans and the Public

What kinds of drugs are available?

Anti-HIV drugs are also called antiretroviral drugs or antiretrovirals. They work because they attack the HIV virus directly. The drugs cripple the ability of the virus to make copies of itself.

There are 6 main classes of anti-HIV drugs:

  • Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs or "nukes")
  • Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs or "non-nukes")
  • Protease Inhibitors (PIs)
  • Integrase Inhibitors
  • Chemokine Coreceptor Antagonists (CCR5 Antagonists)
  • Fusion or Entry Inhibitors

Each group attacks HIV in its own way and helps your body fight the infection. Most of these drugs come as tablets or capsules. Several of these drugs may be combined into one tablet to make it easier to take your medications. These are known as fixed-dose combinations.

The following is a short description of how each group of drugs works and the names of the drugs.

Note: The names of drugs are long and sometimes hard to pronounce. Don't worry! You can always come back and read this again, and you can talk to your VA doctor about questions you have.