Drug Expert: HIV

Treatment with HIV medicines is called antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART can’t cure HIV, but taking HIV medicines help those living with HIV live longer, healthier lives. People on ART take a combination of HIV medicines (referred to as their HIV regimen) every day. A person’s initial HIV regimen generally includes three HIV medicines from at least two different drug classes. Today we’re going to discuss those drug classes, what they do, and what drugs belong to them.

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

NRTIs block reverse transcriptase, an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand Name
abacavir (abacavir sulfate, ABC) Ziagen
emtricitabine (FTC) Emtriva
lamivudine (3TC) Epivir
tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (tenofovir DF, TDF) Viread
zidovudine (azidothymidine, AZT, ZDV) Retrovir

Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)

NNRTIs bind to and later alter reverse transcriptase, an enzyme that HIV needs in order to make copies of itself.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand Name
doravirine (DOR) Pifeltro
efavirenz (EFV) Sustiva
etravirine (ETR) Intelence
nevirapine (extended-release nevirapine, NVP) Viramune / Viramune XR (extended release)
rilpivirine (rilpivirine hydrochloride, RPV) Edurant

Protease Inhibitors (PIs)

PIs block HIV protease, an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand Name
atazanavir (atazanavir sulfate, ATV) Reyataz
darunavir (darunavir ethanolate, DRV) Prezista
fosamprenavir (fosamprenavir calcium, FOS-APV, FPV) Lexiva
ritonavir (RTV)** Norvir
saquinavir (saquinavir mesylate, SQV) Invirase
tipranavir (TPV) Aptivus

**Although ritonavir is a PI, it is generally used as a pharmacokinetic enhancer as recommended in the Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents and the Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Pediatric HIV Infection.

Fusion Inhibitors

Fusion inhibitors block HIV from entering the CD4 cells of the immune system.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand Name
enfuvirtide (T-20) Fuzeon

CCR5 Antagonists

CCR5 Antagonists block CCR5 coreceptors on the surface of certain immune cells.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand
maraviroc (MVC) Selzentry

Integrase Inhibitors

Integrase inhibitors block HIV integrase, an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand
dolutegravir (DTG, dolutegravir sodium) Tivicay
raltegravir (raltegravir potassium, RAL) Isentress, Isentress HD

Pharmacokinetic Enhancers

Pharmacokinetic enhancers are used in HIV treatment to increase the effectiveness of an HIV medicine included in an HIV regimen.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand
cobicistat (COBI) Tybost

Combination HIV Medicines

Combination HIV medicines contain two or more HIV medicines from one or more drug classes.

Generic Name (other name, abbreviation) Brand
abacavir and lamivudine (abacavir sulfate / lamivudine, ABC / 3TC) Epzicom
abacavir, dolutegravir, and lamivudine (abacavir sulfate / dolutegravir sodium / lamivudine, ABC / DTG / 3TC) Triumeq
abacavir, lamivudine, and zidovudine (abacavir sulfate / lamivudine / zidovudine, ABC / 3TC / ZDV) Trizivir
atazanavir and cobicistat (atazanavir sulfate / cobicistat, ATV / COBI) Evotaz
bictegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide (bictegravir sodium / emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, BIC / FTC / TAF) Biktarvy
darunavir and cobicistat (darunavir ethanolate / cobicistat, DRV / COBI) Prezcobix
darunavir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide (darunavir ethanolate / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir AF, darunavir ethanolate / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide, darunavir / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir AF, darunavir / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate,  DRV / COBI / FTC / TAF) Symtuza
dolutegravir and rilpivirine (dolutegravir sodium / rilpivirine hydrochloride, DTG / RPV) Juluca
doravirine, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (doravirine / lamivudine / TDF, doravirine / lamivudine / tenofovir DF, DOR / 3TC / TDF) Delstrigo
efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (efavirenz / emtricitabine / tenofovir DF, EFV / FTC / TDF) Atripla
efavirenz, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (EFV / 3TC / TDF) Symfi
efavirenz, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (EFV / 3TC / TDF) Symfi Lo
elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (elvitegravir / cobicistat / emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide, EVG / COBI / FTC / TAF) Genvoya
elvitegravir, cobicistat, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (QUAD, EVG / COBI / FTC / TDF) Stribild
emtricitabine, rilpivirine, and tenofovir alafenamide (emtricitabine / rilpivirine / tenofovir AF, emtricitabine / rilpivirine / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, emtricitabine / rilpivirine hydrochloride / tenofovir AF, emtricitabine / rilpivirine hydrochloride / tenofovir alafenamide, emtricitabine / rilpivirine hydrochloride / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, FTC / RPV / TAF) Odefsey
emtricitabine, rilpivirine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (emtricitabine / rilpivirine hydrochloride / tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, emtricitabine / rilpivirine / tenofovir, FTC / RPV / TDF) Complera
emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide (emtricitabine / tenofovir AF, emtricitabine / tenofovir alafenamide fumarate, FTC / TAF) Descovy
emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (emtricitabine / tenofovir DF, FTC / TDF) Truvada
lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Temixys, 3TC / TDF) Cimduo
lamivudine and zidovudine (3TC / ZDV) Combivir
lopinavir and ritonavir (ritonavir-boosted lopinavir, LPV/r, LPV / RTV) Kaletra
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