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HIV/AIDS Medicines


In the early 1980s, when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, patients rarely lived longer than a few years. But today, there are many effective medicines to fight the infection, and people with HIV have longer, healthier lives.

There are five major types of medicines:

  • Reverse transcriptase (RT) inhibitors – interfere with a critical step during the HIV life cycle and keep the virus from making copies of itself
  • Protease inhibitors – interfere with a protein that HIV uses to make infectious viral particles
  • Fusion inhibitors – block the virus from entering the body’s cells
  • Integrase inhibitors – block an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself
  • Multidrug combinations – combine two or more different types of drugs into one

These medicines help people with HIV, but they are not perfect. They do not cure HIV/AIDS. People with HIV infection still have the virus in their bodies. They can still spread HIV to others through unprotected sex and needle sharing, even when they are taking their medicines.

NIH: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

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