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Treatments for HIV/AIDS

Treatments for HIV/AIDS:

Treatment of HIV starts with prevention. Preventive measures include seeking regular medical care throughout the lifetime. Regular medical care allows a health care professional to best evaluate symptoms and the risks of catching HIV and regularly test for it as needed. These measures greatly increase your chances of catching and treating HIV in its earliest stages before serious complications occur.

Other preventive measures include abstaining from sexual activity or having sex only within a mutually monogamous relationship in which neither partner is infected with HIV. Latex condoms also provide some protection against HIV when used properly. It is also important not to share needles with other people.

HIV is not curable, but prompt diagnosis and treatment can help to reduce or delay the onset of serious complications, improve the quality of life, and minimize the spread of the disease to others. Treatment generally includes drugs called antiretroviral medications. These include protease inhibitors and reverse transcriptase inhibitors. These drugs hinder the ability of HIV to reproduce, which results in a slowing of the spread of HIV in the body. The use of antiretroviral medications can help people with HIV to lead longer lives.

Treatment also includes regular monitoring and prompt diagnosis and treatment of complications, such as meningitis or opportunistic infections. Hospitalization is often necessary to treat serious complications.

Treatment List for HIV/AIDS

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for HIV/AIDS includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

  • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors - also called nucleoside analogs
    • Zidovudine (AZT) - also called ZDV
    • Zalcitibine (ddC)
    • Didanosine (ddI)
    • Stavudine (d4T)
    • 3TC (lamivudine)
    • Abacavir
    • Tenofovir
  • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) - usually in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.
    • Delvaridine (Rescriptor)
    • Nevirapine (Viramune)
    • Efravirenz (Sustiva)
  • Protease inhibitors
    • Ritonavir (Norvir)
    • Saquinivir (Invirase)
    • Indinavir (Crixivan)
    • Amprenivir (Agenerase)
    • Nelfinavir (Viracept)
    • Lopinavir (Kaletra)
  • Combination drug treatments - because HIV becomes drug resistent, it is typical to use a combination of drugs.
  • Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) - a treatment strategy of aggressive use of medications.
  • Treatments for opportunistic infections
  • Treatments for complications - each complication needs its own treatment.
  • Treatments to prevent mother-infant transmission include:
  • The aims of HIV treatment include
    • Restoration and preservation of immune function
    • Improvement in quality and length of life
    • Resolution of symptoms of HIV including diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss
    • Reduction in disease progression and opportunistic infections
  • This is best achieved with a combination of antiretroviral agents which include:
    • Nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors - also called nucleoside analogs
      • Zidovudine (AZT) - also called ZDV
      • Zalcitibine (ddC)
      • Didanosine (ddI)
      • Stavudine (d4T)
      • 3TC (lamivudine)
      • Abacavir
      • Tenofovir
    • Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs) - usually in combination with other antiretroviral drugs
      • Delvaridine (Rescriptor)
      • Nevirapine (Viramune)
      • Efravirenz (Sustiva)
    • Protease inhibitors
      • Ritonavir (Norvir)
      • Saquinivir (Invirase)
      • Indinavir (Crixivan)
      • Amprenivir (Agenerase)
      • Nelfinavir (Viracept)
      • Lopinavir (Kaletra)
    • Fusion inhibitors - Enfuvirtide
    • Integrase inhibitors - Raltegravir
    • Cellular chemokine receptor (CCR5) antagonists - Maraviroc
  • Other treatment approaches include:
    • Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) - a treatment strategy of aggressive use of medications
    • Treatment and prevention of opportunistic infections
      • Foscarnet - for CMV eye infections
      • Ganciclovir - for CMV eye infections
      • Fluconazole - for fungal infections
      • Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) - for PCP
      • Pentamidine - for PCP
    • Treatment of complications - as required
    • Prevention of mother-infant transmission with agents such as:

HIV/AIDS: Is the Diagnosis Correct?

The first step in getting correct treatment is to get a correct diagnosis. Differential diagnosis list for HIV/AIDS may include:

HIV/AIDS: Marketplace Products, Discounts & Offers

Products, offers and promotion categories available for HIV/AIDS:

Curable Types of HIV/AIDS

Possibly curable types of HIV/AIDS may include:

  • Pneumocystitis carinii pneumonia related HIV
  • Tuberculosis related HIV
  • Toxoplasmosis related HIV
  • more curable types...»

HIV/AIDS: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research all specialists including ratings, affiliations, and sanctions.

Drugs and Medications used to treat HIV/AIDS:

Note:You must always seek professional medical advice about any prescription drug, OTC drug, medication, treatment or change in treatment plans.

Some of the different medications used in the treatment of HIV/AIDS include:

  • Didanosine - used as part of a combination treatment.
  • Videx - used as part of a combination treatment.
  • Videx EC - used as part of a combination treatment.
  • Lamivudine
  • Combivir
  • Epivir
  • Epivir HBV
  • Trizivir
  • Lopinavir and Ritonavir - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Kaletra - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Amprenavir
  • Agenerase
  • Indinavir
  • Crixivan
  • Nelfinavir
  • Viracept Ritonavir
  • Norvir
  • Saquinavir
  • Fortovase
  • Invirase
  • Tenofovir
  • Viread
  • Stavudine - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Zerit - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Zalcitabine - used as part of a combination therapy
  • HIVID - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Abacavir - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Abacavir Sulfate - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Ziagen - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Epzicom - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Abacavir and Lamivudine - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Trizivar - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Atazanavir - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Reyataz - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Delavirdine - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Rescriptor - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Efavirenz - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Sustiva - used as part of a combination treatment
  • Emtricitabine - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Emtriva - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Emtricitabine and Tenofovir - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Truvada - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Enflurane - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Ethrane - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Enfran - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Enlirane - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Enfuvirtide - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Fuzeon - used as part of a combination therapy
  • Fosamprenavir
  • Lexiva

Hospital statistics for HIV/AIDS:

These medical statistics relate to hospitals, hospitalization and HIV/AIDS:

  • 185,000 patients were discharged with HIV in the US 2001 (Health, United States, 2003, NCHS, CDC)
  • HIV patients had an average length of stay in hospitals of 7.8 days in the US 2001 (Health, United States, 2003, NCHS, CDC)
  • 0.04% (4,589) of hospital episodes were for HIV in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • 79% of hospital consultations for HIV required hospital admission in England 2002-03 (Hospital Episode Statistics, Department of Health, England, 2002-03)
  • more hospital information...»

Hospitals & Medical Clinics: HIV/AIDS

Research quality ratings and patient incidents/safety measures for hospitals and medical facilities in specialties related to HIV/AIDS:

Hospital & Clinic quality ratings »

Choosing the Best Treatment Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to HIV/AIDS, on hospital and medical facility performance and surgical care quality:

Medical news summaries about treatments for HIV/AIDS:

The following medical news items are relevant to treatment of HIV/AIDS:

Discussion of treatments for HIV/AIDS:

Backgrounder -- HIV Infection in Infants and Children: NIAID (Excerpt)

NIAID investigators are defining the best treatments for pediatric patients. Currently there are 16 drug products approved by the FDA for the treatment of adult HIV infection. Through major contributions by the Pediatric ACTG, 10 antiretroviral agents have pediatric label information, including 3 protease inhibitors.28 While the basic principles that guide treatment of pediatric HIV infection are the same as for any HIV-infected person, there are a number of unique scientific and medical concerns that are important to consider in the treatment of children with HIV infection. These range from differences from adults in age-related issues such as CD4 lymphocyte counts and drug metabolism to requirements for special formulations and treatment regimens that are appropriate for infants through adolescents. As in adults, treatment of HIV-infected children today is a complex task of using potent combinations of antiretroviral agents to maximally suppress viral replication. (Source: excerpt from Backgrounder -- HIV Infection in Infants and Children: NIAID)

HIV Infection and AIDS, An Overview, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

When AIDS first surfaced in the United States, there were no medicines to combat the underlying immune deficiency and few treatments existed for the opportunistic diseases that resulted. Over the past 10 years, however, researchers have developed drugs to fight both HIV infection and its associated infections and cancers.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a number of drugs for treating HIV infection. The first group of drugs used to treat HIV infection, called nucleoside reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors, interrupts an early stage of the virus making copies of itself. Included in this class of drugs (called nucleoside analogs) are AZT (also known as zidovudine or ZDV), ddC (zalcitabine), ddI (dideoxyinosine), d4T (stavudine), and 3TC (lamivudine). These drugs may slow the spread of HIV in the body and delay the onset of opportunistic infections.

Health care providers can prescribe non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), such as delvaridine (Rescriptor), nevirapine (Viramune), and efravirenz (Sustiva), in combination with other antiretroviral drugs.

More recently, FDA has approved a second class of drugs for treating HIV infection. These drugs, called protease inhibitors, interrupt virus replication at a later step in its life cycle. They include

  • ritonavir (Norvir)
  • saquinivir (Invirase)
  • indinavir (Crixivan)
  • amprenivir (Agenerase)
  • nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • lopinavir (Kaletra)
Because HIV can become resistant to any of these drugs, health care providers must use a combination treatment to effectively suppress the virus.

Currently available antiretroviral drugs do not cure people of HIV infection or AIDS, however, and they all have side effects that can be severe. Some of the nucleoside RT inhibitors may cause a depletion of red or white blood cells, especially when taken in the later stages of the disease. Some may also cause an inflammation of the pancreas and painful nerve damage. There have been reports or complications and other severe reactions, including death, to some of the antiretroviral nucleoside analogs when used alone or in combination. Therefore, health care experts recommend that people on antiretroviral therapy be routinely seen and followed by their providers.

The most common side effects associated with protease inhibitors include nausea, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. In addition, protease inhibitors can interact with other drugs resulting in serious side effects.

Researchers have credited highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, as being a major factor in reducing the number of deaths from AIDS in this country by 47 percent in 1997. HAART is a treatment regimen that uses a combination of reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors to treat patients. Patients who are newly infected with HIV as well as AIDS patients can take the combination.

While HAART is not a cure for AIDS, it has greatly improved the health of many people with AIDS and it reduces the amount of virus circulating in the blood to nearly undetectable levels. Researchers have shown that HAART cannot eradicate HIV entirely from the body. HIV remains present, lurking in hiding places such as the lymph nodes, the brain, testes, and the retina of the eye, even in patients who have been treated.

A number of drugs are available to help treat opportunistic infections to which people with HIV are especially prone. These drugs include
  • foscarnet and ganciclovir to treat cytomegalovirus eye infections
  • fluconazole to treat yeast and other fungal infections
  • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP/SMX) or pentamidine to treat Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP)
In addition to antiretroviral therapy, health care providers treat adults with HIV, whose CD4+ T-cell counts drop below 200, to prevent the occurrence of PCP, which is one of the most common and deadly opportunistic infections associated with HIV. They give children PCP preventive therapy when their CD4+ T-cell counts drop to levels considered below normal for their age group. Regardless of their CD4+ T-cell counts, HIV-infected children and adults who have survived an episode of PCP take drugs for the rest of their lives to prevent a recurrence of the pneumonia.

HIV-infected individuals who develop Kaposi's sarcoma or other cancers are treated with radiation, chemotherapy, or injections of alpha interferon, a genetically engineered naturally occurring protein. (Source: excerpt from HIV Infection and AIDS, An Overview, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

HIV Infection in Adolescents, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID (Excerpt)

Adolescents tend to think they are invincible, and therefore, to deny any risk. This belief may cause them to engage in risky behavior, to delay HIV testing, and if they test positive, to delay or refuse treatment. Doctors report that many young people, when they learn they are HIV-positive, take several months to accept their diagnosis and return for treatment. Health care professionals may be able to help these adolescents by explaining the information slowly and carefully, eliciting questions from them, and emphasizing the success of newly available treatments.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has developed two documents that address the standard of care for the treatment of HIV, including information about how to treat HIV in adolescents. The documents, Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents and Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Pediatric HIV Infection are available from the National Prevention Information Network and the HIV/AIDS Treatment Information Service (telephone numbers are listed in the resources section). These documents also can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.hivatis.org/.

According to the Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, adolescents who were exposed to HIV sexually or via injection drug use appear to follow a clinical course that is more similar to HIV disease in adults than in children. At this time, most adolescents with sexually acquired HIV are in a relatively early stage of infection and are ideal candidates for early intervention. Adolescents who were infected at birth or via blood products as young children follow a unique clinical course that may differ from other adolescents and long-term surviving adults. Health care workers should refer to the treatment guidelines for detailed information about the treatment of HIV-infected adolescents. (Source: excerpt from HIV Infection in Adolescents, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

Treatment of HIV Infection: NIAID (Excerpt)

Sixteen drugs have been approved for treating HIV infection. They are called antiretroviral drugs because they attack HIV, which is a retrovirus. Once inside the cell, HIV uses specific enzymes to survive. Antiretroviral drugs work by interfering with the virus' ability to use these enzymes. They fall into two categories.

  • Reverse transcriptase inhibitors interfere with an enzyme called reverse transcriptase or RT that HIV needs to make copies of itself. There are two main types of RT inhibitors and they each work differently.

    • Nucleoside/nucleotide drugs provide faulty DNA building blocks, halting the DNA chain that the virus uses to make copies of itself.

    • Non-nucleoside RT inhibitors bind RT so the virus cannot carry out its copying function.

  • Protease inhibitors interfere with the protease enzyme that HIV uses to produce infectious viral particles.
Drugs Approved for HIV Infection

    Nucleoside/Nucleotide
    RT Inhibitors
  • abacavir
  • ddC
  • ddI
  • d4T
  • 3TC
  • ZDV
  • tenofovir
    Non-nucleoside
    RT Inhibitors
  • delavirdine
  • nevirapine
  • efavirenz
    Protease
    Inhibitors
  • ritonavir
  • saquinavir
  • indinavir
  • amprenavir
  • nelfinavir
  • lopinavir

Do antiretroviral drugs cure HIV infection?

No, the currently available drugs cannot cure HIV infection. This is because HIV can become resistant to any one drug. Researchers initially attacked this problem by using a combination of antiretroviral drugs to suppress the virus. By combining both RT inhibitors and protease inhibitors, NIAID-supported research groups and drug companies developed the potent and effective combination therapy called highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART.

Although the use of HAART has greatly reduced the number of deaths due to AIDS, this powerful combination of drugs cannot suppress the virus indefinitely. In addition, while people with HIV are living longer, new medical problems are surfacing. These new problems have not been seen before in people who have been infected with the virus for a long time. (Source: excerpt from Treatment of HIV Infection: NIAID)

Women and HIV-AIDS: NWHIC (Excerpt)

Currently, there is no known cure for HIV/AIDS. The best treatment right now seems to be prescription "cocktails," or combinations of prescription drugs. These medications include those for antiviral treatment and other drugs, like oral antifungals to combat yeast infections, which fight diseases that take advantage of the weakened immune response of HIV-infected people. It is also important for HIV-infected women and their physicians to watch for pelvic inflammatory disease or other STDs through screening. Similarly, cervical cancer may be more common and progress more quickly in infected women; for this reason, women with HIV should have Pap Smears twice a year to make sure cancer is detected and treated early. (Source: excerpt from Women and HIV-AIDS: NWHIC)

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