• Decrease font size
  • Return font size to normal
  • Increase font size
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

  • Print
  • Share
  • E-mail

HIV and AIDS - Medicines to Help You.

HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. A person with HIV is called HIV positive (HIV+). 

HIV makes it hard for your body to fight off sickness. There are cells in your blood called "CD4 cells" or "T cells". These cells help protect your body from disease. HIV kills these cells. A person with HIV does not have as many of these cells as a healthy person.

There is hope.

There are drugs that can treat HIV and help people live longer. These medicines help to keep the virus from building up in your body. These drugs do not stop you from spreading HIV. You can still give the disease to someone else.

People with HIV may need to take 3 or more different medicines every day. You and your doctor will decide which ones are right for you. It is important that you take your HIV medicines every day. Do not stop taking your medicines without talking to your doctor. Over time, you can get very sick if you do not take your medicines.

Use this guide to help you talk to your doctor about the HIV medicines you are taking. This guide provides some basic facts about the HIV medicines that have been approved by the FDA.

There are many things you can do to help improve your health.
  • Work closely with your doctor to monitor your health.
  • Take your medicine.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Quit smoking and using illegal drugs.
  • Get regular exercise.
Women and HIV

Women from all backgrounds and cultures can get HIV. However, increasing numbers of African American and Latino women have HIV.

Learn the facts about women and HIV. Educate yourself to help you live longer. Educate yourself so that you can teach other women how to prevent HIV and AIDS.

Did you know?
  • Most women get HIV from having unprotected sex with men.
  • A woman can pass HIV to her baby during pregnancy, labor, or delivery.
  • A woman can also pass HIV to her baby during breastfeeding.
  • A pregnant woman can take medicine to lower the chance of giving her baby HIV. Pregnant women should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of taking medicines for HIV. Some anti-HIV medicines should not be taken during pregnancy because they can cause birth defects.
  • Babies born to women with HIV may need to take anti-HIV medicines after birth to lower the chance that they will get HIV. Talk to your doctor about the best way to treat your baby.
  • Women who are HIV positive should get regular pap smears and exams to test them for other health problems.
  • Women with HIV are more likely to have:
    • Vaginal yeast infections
    • Other infections such bacterial vaginosis
    • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)
    • Sexually Transmitted Infections like gonorrhea or HPV
    • Changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer
Anti-HIV Medicines
The main drug treatment for people with HIV is Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (also called HAART). HAART drugs help to slow the growth of HIV in your body.

HAART is made up of different kinds of medicines:

1. Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
2. Nonnucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
3. Protease Inhibitors
4. Fusion Inhibitors
5. Integrase Inhibitors
6. Entry Inhibitors
7. Combination Drugs

The seven different groups of HAART drugs are listed on the next few pages. The brand names and generic names are listed for each drug.

Risks and Side Effects

The drugs used to treat HIV can sometimes cause side effects. Side effects may be different depending on the person and the kind of medicine. Some people have no side effects. Others can have very bad side effects.

Tell your doctor about any side effects you are having. Do not stop taking your medicine without talking to your doctor. Your doctor may tell you tips to help you cope with the side effects. The doctor may also decide to have you take different drugs.

This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each HAART drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.

Information about specific drugs can also be found on the FDA Web site at: www.fda.gov/cder/drug/DrugSafety/DrugIndex.htm

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)
Brand Name Generic Name
Other Names
Combivir Lamivudine and Zidovudine
Emtriva Emtricitabine
FTC
Epivir Lamivudine
3TC
Epzicom Abacavir and Lamivudine
Hivid Zalcitabine
Dideoxycytidine, ddC
Retrovir Zidovudine, AZT,
Azidothymidine, ZDV
Trizivir Abacavir, Zidovudine and Lamivudine
Truvada Tenofovir Disoproxil and Emtricitabine
Videx Didanosine , ddl,
Dideoxyinosine
Videx EC Enteric Coated Didanosine
Viread Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate, TDF
Zerit Stavudine
d4T
Ziagen Abacavir, Sulfate, ABC
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors: What You Should Know

This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.

Warnings
  • Women should not breastfeed while taking these medicines.
  • These medicines may cause lactic acidosis (too much acid in the blood).
  • These medicines may cause serious liver or pancreas problems.
  • People with liver problems including hepatitis and people with kidney problems should talk to their doctor before taking these medicines.
  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling very weak or tired
  • Problems Breathing
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in feet or hands
  • Skin or eyes look yellow
  • Pain in the upper stomach area
Common Side Effects
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired
  • Upset stomach
  • Mild nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Do not feel like eating
Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)
Brand Name Generic Name
Other Names
Intelence Etravirine
Rescriptor Delavirdine
DLV
Sustiva Efavirenz
EFV
Viramune Nevirapine
NVP
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors: What You Should Know

This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.

Warnings
  • Women should not breastfeed while taking these medicines.
  • These medicines may cause serious liver problems or severe skin rashes.
  • People with liver problems including hepatitis and people with kidney problems should talk to their doctor before taking these medicines.
  • Women with CD4 counts higher than 250 should talk to their doctor about the risks of taking Viramune (Nevirapine).
  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling tired
  • Do not feel like eating
  • Dark urine (looks like tea)
  • Pale stools
  • Upset stomach/ nausea
  • Jaundice (skin or eyes look yellow)
  • Pain, aches, or sensitivity to touch on right side below your ribs

Also call your doctor right away if you have a severe rash along with blisters, swelling, pink eye, fever, muscle/ joint pain, or mouth sores.

Common Side Effects
  • Skin rash
  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Problems concentrating
  • Feeling tired
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Strange dreams
Protease Inhibitors
Brand Name Generic Name
Other Names
Agenerase Amprenavir
APV
Aptivus Tipranavir
TPV
Crixivan Indinavir
IDV, MK-639
Fortovase Saquinavir (no longer marketed)
Invirase Saquinavir Mesylate
SQV
Kaletra Lopinavir and Ritonavir
LPV/RTV
Lexiva Fosamprenavir Calcium
FOS-APV
Norvir Ritonavir
RTV
Prezista Darunavir
Reyataz Atazanavir Sulfate
ATV
Viracept Nelfinavir Mesylate
NFV
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Protease Inhibitors: What You Should Know
This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.
Warnings
  • Women taking birth control pills need to use another birth control method.
  • Tell your doctor about all medicines that you are taking. Protease Inhibitors may cause serious health problems or death if mixed with other medicines.
  • These medicines may cause serious liver problems.
  • These medicines may cause increased bleeding in people with hemophilia.
  • These medicines may make diabetes worse or cause people to get diabetes.
  • Some people taking protease inhibitors notice large increases in their cholesterol.
  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
  • Women should not breastfeed while taking these medicines.
Warning Signs

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs:

  • Serious skin rash
  • Feeling very weak or tired
  • Unusual muscle pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
Common Side Effects
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea (Upset Stomach)
  • Vomiting
  • Feeling Tired
  • Headache
Fusion Inhibitors
Brand Name Generic Name
Other Names
Fuzeon
This medicine is a shot.
Enfuvirtide
T-20
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Fusion Inhibitors: What You Should Know

This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.

Warnings
  • People taking Fuzeon with other HIV medicines may be more likely to get pneumonia. Tell your doctor if you have a cough, fever, or trouble breathing.
  • Women should not breastfeed while taking Fuzeon.
  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs

Fuzeon may cause serious allergic reactions. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs.

  • Trouble breathing
  • Fever with vomiting and a skin rash
  • Blood in urine
  • Swelling of the feet
Common Side Effects
  • Itching, redness, pain, bumps or swelling where the shot is given
  • Pain and numbness in feet or legs
  • Problems sleeping
  • Depression
  • Weakness or loss of strength
  • Muscle pain
  • Constipation
Multi-Class Combination Drugs
Brand Name Generic Name
Atripla Efavirenz, Emtricitabine, and
Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Combination Drugs: What You Should Know
This guide does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.
Warnings
  • Atripla may cause lactic acidosis (too much acid in the blood).
  • Atripla may cause serious liver problems.
  • People who have kidney or liver problems including Hepatitis B should talk to their doctor before using this medicine.
  • People who have ever had seizures and people taking medicines for seizure should talk to their doctor before using this medicine.
  • People who have ever had mental illness and people with bone problems should talk to their doctor before using this medicine
  • Women should not get pregnant or breast feed while taking Atripla.
  • Women taking birth control pills need to use another birth control method.
  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs
Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Feeling very weak or tired
  • Unusual muscle pain
  • Trouble breathing
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Dark urine
  • Light colored stools
  • Loss of appetite for several days
  • Upset stomach (nausea)
  • Stomach pain
  • Jaundice (skin or eyes look yellow)
Common Side Effects
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Problems concentrating
  • Unusual dreams
Integrase Inhibitors
Brand Name Generic Name
Isentress Raltegravir
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Integrase Inhibitors: What You Should Know
This guide does not give all of the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should talk to their doctor before taking Isentress (Raltegravir).

  • Women should not breastfeed while taking Isentress (Raltegravir).

  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies before you start taking Isentress (Raltegravir).

  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs
You should also see your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Unexplained muscle pain, tenderness or weakness
  • Signs of an infection
Common Side Effects
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Headache
Entry Inhibitors
Brand Name Generic Name
Selzentry Maraviroc
For more information about the risks and side effects for each drug, check Drugs@FDA.
Entry Inhibitors: What You Should Know
This guide does not give all of the specific side effects or warnings for each drug. Check the drug label and ask your doctor for the side effects and warnings for the HIV medicines you are taking.
Warnings
  • People with liver problems including Hepatitis B or C should talk to their doctor before taking Selzentry (Maraviroc).

  • People with kidney problems or heart problems should talk to their doctor before taking Selzentry (Maraviroc).

  • Tell your doctor if you are taking high blood pressure medicines or if you have low blood pressure.

  • Do not drive a car or use heavy machinery if you feel dizzy while taking Selzentry (Maraviroc).

  • Tell your doctor if you have any allergies before you start taking Selzentry (Maraviroc).

  • Women should not breastfeed while taking Selzentry (Maraviroc).

  • In some cases, people taking HIV medicines notice changes in body fat (like extra fat in the neck or upper back or loss of fat in the face or arms).
Warning Signs
Selzentry may cause serious liver problems. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:
  • Itchy rash on your body
  • Skin or eyes look yellow
  • Dark (tea- colored) urine
  • Vomiting and stomach pain

You should also see your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:

  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue
Serious Side Effects
  • Possible chance of infection or cancer
Common Side Effects
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Colds
  • Rash
  • Muscle and Joint Pain
  • Stomach Pain
  • Dizziness
Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor
  • What drugs am I taking?
  • What are the side effects of taking these drugs?
  • What do I do if I start having bad side effects?
  • What other prescription drugs should I avoid while taking my HIV medicines?
  • What herbs (like St. John's Wort) or over-the-counter medicines should I avoid?
  • When should I take each drug?
  • Should I take my medicines with food?
  • How should I keep my medicines when I go out of town?
  • How long can I stay on this regimen?

Ask your doctor to tell you what you should know about your HIV medicines. Write down the important facts in the space below.

My Regimen:

It is important that you take your HIV medicines exactly as your doctor tells you. Do not skip a pill. The medicines may not work correctly if you skip a pill.

Here are some tips to help you remember when to take your HIV medicines.

  • Use a schedule or planner
  • Set the alarm on your watch or clock
  • Find a friend to remind you
  • Use a pillbox to help you organize your pills
My Medicine Schedule
Time Drug Name Dose
(How many Pills)
Notes
6:30 XXX (example) 1 Pill Take with food
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       

To Learn More

FDA Office of Special Health Issues
FDA HIV/AIDS Info
Web: www.fda.gov/oashi/aids/virals.html

AIDSinfo
US Department of Health and Human Services
Web: www.aidsinfo.nih.gov
Phone: 1-800-448-0440
TTY/TTD: 888-480-3739

CDC
US Department of Health and Human Services
Web: www.cdc.gov/hiv/
Phone: 1-800-232-4636
TTY/TTD: 1-888-232-6348


This information reflects FDA's current analysis of data available to FDA concerning these products. FDA intends to update this sheet when additional information or analyses become available.

For the most recent information about each drug, check Drugs@FDA: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cder/drugsatfda/

2007