These medicines may be available in other combinations to
treat HIV infection.
Nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase
inhibitors (NNRTIs) are antiretroviral medicines. They prevent the human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying. When the amount
of virus in the blood is kept at a minimum, the
immune system has a chance to recover and grow
The use of three or more
antiretroviral medicines (antiretroviral therapy, or ART) is the usual treatment for HIV infection.
combination of medicines used for ART will depend on your health, other
conditions you might have (such as
hepatitis), and results of testing. Talk to your
doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
Medical experts recommend that people begin treatment for HIV as soon as they know that they are infected.1, 2 Treatment is especially important for pregnant women, people who have other infections (such as tuberculosis or hepatitis), and people who have symptoms of AIDS.
You may also want to start HIV treatment if your sex partner does not have HIV. Treatment of your HIV infection can help prevent the spread of HIV to your sex partner.3
The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends one of the following programs for people who start treatment for HIV:3
When compared with people who are
given single- or double-medicine therapy, people who are given triple-medicine
Antiretroviral therapy can also decrease symptoms of HIV
infection, such as fever, weakness, and weight loss.
The rate at
which antiretrovirals decrease viral loads is affected by:3
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of these medicines include:
In rare cases, nevirapine causes liver damage that can
be severe and life-threatening. Regular blood tests may be needed to watch
for liver problems.
Etravirine can cause a rare, but severe, skin reaction.
Side effects of any combination medicine can include the
side effects of any of the single medicines in the combination.
Side effects usually are not as bad after your body has adjusted to the
medicine. Report all side effects to your doctor. He or she may be able to help
you reduce side effects by giving you other medicines.
Many people think that antiretroviral medicines always have
severe side effects. In fact, only a few people experience severe side
Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in
Resistance to single-medicine
NNRTI treatment develops quickly. For this reason, they should be used only in
combination with other antiretroviral medicines to treat HIV infection or to
prevent or delay the development of resistance.
Things to think about when choosing a combination of medicines
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2012). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents
in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf.
Thompson MA, et al. (2012). Antiretroviral treatment of adult HIV infection: 2012 recommendations of the International Antiviral Society—USA Panel. JAMA, 308(4): 387–402.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2011). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf.
November 7, 2012
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
& Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
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