for anyone infected with the virus.
- Medicines used to treat HIV are called antiretrovirals.
- Using multiple HIV medicines together is called antiretroviral therapy (ART).
- The goal of these HIV treatments is to raise the CD4+ T-cell count and lower the viral load to the point where it is undetectable. This doesn't mean that you no longer have HIV.
Your healthcare provider will explain that some HIV medicines:
Have to be taken at a certain time of day
Can be taken any time of day
Must be taken with food or drink
Don't have to be taken with food or drink
Are taken with other kinds of HIV medicines as part of a "regimen"
Are combined into a single pill that's taken every day
There are 6 classes of HIV-1 medicines.
Interfere with the virus's ability to bind to the outer surface of the CD4+ T-cell co-receptor and inhibit HIV from entering the CD4+ T-cell.
Interfere with the virus's ability to fuse with the outer surface of the CD4+ T-cell membrane and prevent HIV from entering the CD4+ T-cell.
In order for HIV-1 to make more copies of itself, HIV needs to convert its RNA to DNA by using reverse transcriptase enzyme. NRTIs are fake DNA building blocks. When one of the fake building blocks is added to a growing HIV-1 DNA chain, the real DNA building blocks cannot be added on and the building of HIV-1 DNA stops. Thus, HIV-1 RNA can't be converted into HIV-1 DNA.
In order for HIV-1 to make more copies of itself, HIV needs to convert its RNA to DNA by using reverse transcriptase enzyme. NNRTIs bind to the reverse transcriptase (RT) enzyme, interfering with its ability to convert HIV-1 RNA into HIV-1 DNA.
Interfere with the HIV enzyme integrase, which the virus uses to insert ("integrate") its genetic material (HIV-1 DNA) into the genetic material (DNA) of the CD4+ T-cell it has infected.
Interfere with the HIV enzyme called protease. When protease does not work properly, new HIV virus particles cannot be assembled.
Source: US Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.aids.gov.
If you're on an HIV medication, taking other medicines can change how your treatment works. Make sure you tell your healthcare provider and pharmacist about ANYTHING you're taking, including prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins or herbal supplements. Drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs can also change how well your medication works.
HIV treatment has to be taken exactly as it's prescribed.
If you skip or miss taking your HIV medication, it could make your HIV resistant and much harder to treat. That's why it's so important to stick to your treatment. Always talk to your healthcare provider before you skip or stop taking your medication.
What is "HIV Resistance"?
When HIV is resistant, it can mean some HIV treatments—including ones you've taken—won't work anymore. You can help stop your HIV from becoming resistant by:
- Taking your medicines when and how they're prescribed
- Not skipping or stopping your medication
- Going to your healthcare appointments to keep track of your numbers
Your healthcare provider may give you a blood test to see if your virus is resistant, which will help them find a treatment that will still control the virus.
Financial help with HIV medication
If you need help paying for your HIV medication, financial assistance may be available through government programs. Some pharmaceutical companies have savings programs, too.
The ViiV Healthcare Patient Savings Card offers out-of-pocket support to eligible patients. Visit mysupportcard.com or call 1-866-747-1170 to learn more.