HIV antiretroviral drugs: Types and side effects

Over the years, doctors and researchers have worked diligently to find ways to effectively combat HIV and AIDS. Although there is no known cure, some methods have proven to be more effective than others. In some situations, the patient will be required to undergo antiretroviral therapy.

This treatment has proven to be very helpful for HIV and AIDS patients. However, it is pertinent for the patient to gain a better understanding of this therapy. How does it work? Who is it ideal for? Within this guide, readers will learn a lot more about this therapy and the perks it offers.


What Is It?

First, you should learn more about the basics of antiretroviral therapy. It is a type of HIV treatment that requires multiple medications. In some cases, the patient will consume two medications but they may be required to take more. Anyone who is dealing with HIV or AIDS should learn more about this treatment because it might be the best option for them. The therapy was introduced in 1996 due to the low effectiveness of HIV medication around that time. Initially, patients were given three medications. The treatment proved to be a pivotal point for the treatment of HIV.

Surprisingly, it eliminated the stigma that HIV patients would have a poor outlook. In fact, it turned HIV into an easily manageable illness. It should be noted that this therapy impacts the body in many ways. The patient will consume multiple medications and each will have a different impact on the body. Below, you’ll learn more about the impact it has on the body.

How Antiretroviral Therapy Impacts The Body

Now, you’ll want to find out what this therapy is going to do to your body. How does it work? Ultimately, it will have a plethora of impacts on the body. For instance, it is going to begin by increasing the immune cells in your body. When this happens, it will reduce the virus cells. In addition to this, the therapy can provide a wealth of health benefits. When using this therapy, you can prevent the virus from multiplying in your blood. It’ll also reduce your viral load. If you continue using these medications, the virus may eventually not be detectable.

Antiretroviral therapy will add more CD4 cells to your body. This is important because these immune cells target HIV and improve the function of your immune system. The therapy slows the development of HIV and prevents AID. It’ll also prevent you from transmitting the condition to someone else. Following your doctor’s instructions ensures that you can avoid serious complications while boosting your chance of survival. It is wise to follow this therapy protocol because it will make a big difference in the long run.

Which Drugs Are Needed?

When undergoing antiretroviral therapy, you’ll likely be required to take a handful of medications. Many of these medications are available at You’ll want to learn as much as you can about the drugs so you’ll know what they do and how they work. In general, there are 7 groups of HIV drugs include 30 medications or so. For instance, you have post-attachment inhibitors, CCR4 antagonists, fusion inhibitors, integrase strand transfer inhibitors, and more. In the beginning, your treatment will likely begin with two nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors and another active antiretroviral drug. Depending on the doctor’s recommendations, it could be a PI, INSTI, or NNRTI.

You’ll also likely be required to take a booster. Common boosters include ritonavir and cobicistat. It is important to consult with your primary physician. When you do, you’ll be able to find out what is going to work best for you. Your doctor will help you assemble a plan that will prove to be effective.

What Needs To Be Considered?

When assembling an effective antiretroviral therapy program, it is pertinent to focus on a handful of factors. For instance, the doctor will need to perform a check-up so they can learn more about your current health. When doing so, they can find out which health conditions you have. They’ll use this information to ensure that you’re administered the most effective medications. They’ll also need to know about the patient’s pregnancy. If a woman is pregnant, the medications need to be altered to ensure that the baby will be okay.

Other factors include possible side effects, interactions with other medication, the cost, and the patient’s ability to follow the regimen. The doctor needs to make sure that you’re given the best medication. Therefore, they’re going to study these factors before putting together a reliable antiretroviral therapy plan for you.

When To Start Treatment

There are several reasons why people decide to delay antiretroviral therapy. The main reason is denial, which is not that difficult to believe. No one wants to get an HIV diagnosis. Regardless of your life choices, an HIV diagnosis can be difficult to swallow.

Another reason why people delay HIV treatment is no health care coverage. It is a fact, antiretroviral therapy is quite expensive. So much so, the average household budget will not support it. The monthly cost of $1,800 to $4,500 covers both outpatient physician visits and antiretroviral medicines.

Experts encourage new patients to seek treatment immediately. Even a short delay in starting treatment will increase the patient’s odds of developing AIDS. All HIV patients may get AIDS at some point in their lifetime. But, delayed treatment will increase these risks significantly.

Antiretroviral therapy is believed to decrease the risk of HIV transmission. Starting treatment immediately following an HIV diagnosis will help minimize the risk of spreading the virus to your sex partner(s).

Sticking With Treatment

Starting ART early will not decrease your risks of developing AIDS if you fail to follow through. Your physician will explain the importance of taking treatment daily.


HIV and AIDS patients need to speak to their doctors about antiretroviral therapy. When you do, you’ll find out how to control the condition and improve your quality of life. As long as you carefully follow the recommended protocols, you should be okay. Don’t stray because doing so could lead to issues in the future. Always take the medication as instructed by your primary physician.