Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Antiretroviral medicines for HIV
Make sure you know about each of the medicines you take. This includes why you take it, how to take it, what you can expect while you're taking it, and any warnings about the medicine.
The information provided here is general. So be sure to read the information that came with your medicine. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
These medicines are used to treat HIV. They reduce the amount of virus in your body (viral load). This helps keep your immune system healthy and helps you live longer. The medicines also help prevent HIV from becoming AIDS.
These medicines are used as part of antiretroviral therapy (ART). ART combines several of these medicines to help treat HIV. The use of three or more of these medicines is the standard treatment. This is sometimes called an anti-HIV "cocktail."
Here are some examples of antiretrovirals. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.
Two or more medicines may be combined into one pill. This list does not include any of these combined medicines.
This is not a complete list.
When you combine these medicines, HIV slows down. The virus is slower to make copies of itself (multiply) in the body. This allows your immune system to stay healthy.
Some people feel sick to their stomach when they take these medicines. They may have belly pain or vomit. Some people have diarrhea. They may also feel tired or dizzy.
All medicines can cause side effects. Many people don't have side effects. And minor side effects sometimes go away after a while.
But sometimes side effects can be a problem or can be serious.
If you're having problems with side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to lower your dose or change to a different medicine.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of side effects, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
Cautions for antiretrovirals include the following:
Always tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medicines you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. That information will help prevent serious problems.
Always be sure you get specific information on the medicine you're taking. For a full list of warnings, check the information that came with the medicine you're using. If you have questions, talk to your pharmacist or doctor.
ByHealthwise StaffPrimary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito, MD - Family MedicineSpecialist Medical ReviewerPeter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Current as ofMarch 3, 2017
Current as of:
March 3, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.
You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:
Get started learning more about your health!
Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups and pregnancy.
Feeling under the weather?
Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.