U.S. flag An official website of the United States government
  1. Home
  2. For Consumers
  3. Consumer Information by Audience
  4. For Women
  5. Free Publications For Women
  6. HIV and AIDS: Medicines to Help You
  1. Free Publications For Women

HIV and AIDS: Medicines to Help You

 

Woman reading a tablet displaying FDA web page about HIV and AIDS medicines

Print and Share (PDF 1847 KB)

Every year, thousands of women are infected with HIV. There is hope. There are medicines that can treat HIV and help people live longer.

Use this page to help you talk to your healthcare provider about the medicines you are taking. This information provides some basic facts about the anti-HIV medicines that have been approved by the FDA.

Helpful Tips

Types of HIV Drugs


Quick Facts

There is a lot you need to know about HIV. Read these quick facts before you talk with your healthcare provider about your HIV treatment.

  • HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
  • 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.
  • There are medicines that you can take to reduce the amount of HIV and increase the CD4 cells in your body.
  • These medicines do not cure HIV, but can help you live a longer, healthier life. These medicines also lower the risk of giving HIV to someone else. 
  • The medicines used to treat HIV are called “antiretroviral treatment,” or ART. There are different kinds of ART medicines.
  • When you are on ART for HIV, you need to take medicine every day. You may need to take 1 or more pills every day. Some ART medicines come in a liquid you take by mouth or as an intravenous, or IV, infusion your healthcare provider can give to you. The combination of different HIV medicines that you take is called your regimen.
  • It is important that you take your medicines every day. Do not skip doses or stop taking your medicines without first talking to your healthcare provider. Over time, you can get sick if you do not take your medicines.
  • You should not breastfeed if you are HIV-positive because HIV can be passed to your baby through breast milk.
  • Some medicines may reduce how well some hormonal birth control works. Patients who could become pregnant should talk to their healthcare provider about birth control and what medicines are best for them.
  • Before taking any new ART medicine, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • If you are HIV-positive and pregnant, you can lower the chance of passing HIV to your unborn baby by taking ART. 
    • Some HIV medicines should not be taken at the time of conception through the first trimester of pregnancy because they may harm your unborn baby.
    • Some HIV medicines should not be taken at all during pregnancy. You may not have enough of certain HIV medicines in your body because of changes to your body that occur during pregnancy.
  • Some people with HIV may have changes in body fat, such as fat build-up in the belly, neck, or breasts or fat loss in the arms, legs, buttocks, or face. Some people with HIV will never have these changes.  The exact cause is not known. It may be caused by HIV infection or medicines to treat HIV.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Do not start a new medicine or stop taking a medicine without telling your healthcare provider.

Skip to HIV Medicines


Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor

Ask your doctor to tell you what you should know about your HIV medicines.

  • What medicines am I taking to treat HIV?
  • When should I take each medicine?
  • Should I take my medicines with food?
  • Which prescription medicines, herbs (like St. John’s Wort), over-the-counter medicines (like antacids), or vitamins can affect my HIV medicines? Can my HIV medicines affect any of the other medicines I take?
  • How should I store my HIV medicines? What about when I am away from home or go out of town?
  • What are the side effects of the medicines I am taking?
  • What should I do if I start having bad side effects?

Skip to HIV Medicines

Risks and Side Effects

HIV medicines can sometimes cause side effects. Some side effects happen for a short time. Other side effects can cause long term health problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any side effects you are having. Do not stop taking your medicine without first talking to your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may tell you tips to help you cope with the side effects. Your healthcare provider may also tell you to take different medicines.

  • This page does not give the specific side effects and warnings for each HIV medicine.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the medicines you take.
  • Check the FDA Web site to find more HIV medicine information.

Skip to HIV Medicines

My Regimen

It is important that you take your HIV medicines just as your healthcare provider tells you. Your medicines may not work if you skip a dose or do not stick to your schedule. Over time, you can get sick if you do not take your medicines as directed. Your HIV may become resistant to your medicines. This means your medicines could stop working and more HIV could build up in your body.

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 phone.
  • Use a pillbox to help you organize your pills.
  • Ask a friend or family member to help you.

Chart to help you remember when to take your HIV medicine

Time Medicine Name Dose
(How many Pills)
Notes
6:30 xxxxx (example) 1 Pill Take by mouth with food
       
       
       
       
       

Order or Download our Free Medicine Record Keeper.

Go Back to the Top


Combination Medicines

Combination medicines include two or more different HIV medicines in one pill. There are different types of combination HIV medicines.

Single Tablet Regimen (You only take 1 pill each day.)

Brand Name Other Names
Atripla efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Biktarvy bictegravir sodium, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Complera emtricitabine, rilpivirine hydrochloride, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Delstrigo doravirine, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Dovato dolutegravir sodium and lamivudine
Genvoya cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Juluca dolutegravir sodium and rilpivirine hydrochloride
Odefsey emtricitabine, rilpivirine hydrochloride, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Stribild cobicistat, elvitegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Symfi
Symfi Lo
efavirenz, lamivudine, and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Symtuza cobicistat, darunavir ethanolate, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Triumeq abacavir sulfate, dolutegravir sodium, and lamivudine

You take the following combination medicines along with other HIV medicines.

Brand Name Other Names
Cimduo lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Combivir lamivudine and zidovudine
Descovy emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Epzicom abacavir sulfate and lamivudine
Evotaz atazanavir sulfate and cobicistat
Kaletra lopinavir and ritonavir
Prezcobix cobicistat and darunavir ethanolate
Temixys lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Trizivir abacavir sulfate, lamivudine, and zidovudine
Truvada* emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate

* Truvada can be used in combination with safer sex practices to reduce the risk of a certain type of HIV in at-risk individuals. This regimen is called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. Talk to your healthcare provider for more information on PrEP.

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIP

Before you take these medicines, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

Go Back to the Top


Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

Brand Name Other Names
Cimduo* lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Combivir* lamivudine and zidovudine
Descovy* emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate
Emtriva emtricitabine (also called FTC)
Epivir lamivudine (also called 3TC)
Epzicom* abacavir sulfate and lamivudine
Retrovir zidovudine (also called azidothymidine, ZDV; formerly called AZT)
Temixys* lamivudine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Trizivir* abacavir sulfate, lamivudine, and zidovudine
Truvada* emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate 
Videx didanosine (also called DDl, dideoxyinosine)
Videx EC enteric coated didanosine (also called DDl, dideoxyinosine)
Viread tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (also called TDF)
Zerit stavudine (also called d4T)
Zerit XR
(extended release)
stavudine (also called d4T)
Ziagen abacavir sulfate (also called ABC)

* Cimduo, Combivir, Descovy, Epzicom, Temixys, Trizivir, and Truvada are combination medicines.

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • Talk with your healthcare provider about being tested for HLA-B*5701 prior to taking abacavir or medicines containing abacavir. 
  • These medicines may cause lactic acidosis (too much acid in the blood).
  • These medicines may cause serious liver, pancreas, or kidney problems.
  • If you have kidney problems or liver problems, such as hepatitis, talk to your healthcare provider before taking these medicines.
  • These medications are taken by mouth. Retrovir (other names: zidovudine, AZT, azidothymidine, ZDV) can also be given as an intravenous infusion.

WARNING SIGNS

Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs:

  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling very weak or tired
  • Problems breathing
  • Weakness in arms and legs
  • Tingling, numbness, or pain in feet or hands
  • Jaundice (skin or eyes look yellow)
  • Pain in the upper or lower stomach area

Go Back to the Top


Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)

Brand Name Other Names
Edurant rilpivirine hydrochloride (also called RPV)
Intelence etravirine (also called ETR)
Rescriptor delavirdine mesylate (also called DLV)
Pifeltro doravirine (also called DOR)
Sustiva efavirenz (also called EFV)
Viramune nevirapine (also called NVP)
Viramune XR
(extended release)
nevirapine (also called NVP)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • If you have CD4 counts higher than 250 cells per cubic millimeter of blood, talk to your healthcare provider about the risks of taking Viramune (nevirapine).
  • These medicines may cause serious liver problems or severe skin rashes.
  • If you have kidney problems or liver problems, such as hepatitis, talk to your healthcare provider before taking these medicines.
  • These medicines may affect your birth control pills or patch. You may need to use another method of birth control. Talk to your healthcare provider about what medicine is best for you. 
  • These medications are taken by mouth.

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
  • Jaundice (skin or eyes look yellow)
  • Pain, aches, or sensitivity to touch on right side below your ribs

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

Go Back to the Top


Protease Inhibitors

Brand Name Other Names
Aptivus tipranavir (also called TPV)
Crixivan indinavir sulfate (also called IDV, MK-639)
Evotaz* atazanavir sulfate and cobicistat
Invirase saquinavir mesylate (also called SQV)
Kaletra* lopinavir and ritonavir (also called LPV, RTV)
Lexiva fosamprenavir calcium (also called FOS-APV, FPV)
Norvir ritonavir (also called RTV)
Prezcobix* cobicistat and darunavir ethanolate (also called DRV) 

Prezista

darunavir ethanolate (also called DRV)
Reyataz atazanavir sulfate (also called ATV)
Viracept nelfinavir mesylate (also called NFV)

* Evotaz, Kaletra, and Prezcobix are combination medicines. 

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • Before you take these medicines, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • These medicines may affect your birth control pills or patch. You may need to use another method of birth control. Talk to your healthcare provider about what medicine is best for you.
  • Tell your healthcare provider 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 cause diabetes or make it worse.
  • Certain protease inhibitors may cause an increase in cholesterol (triglycerides). 
  • These medications are taken by mouth.

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

Go Back to the Top


Integrase Inhibitors

Brand Name Other Names
Isentress
Isentress HD
raltegravir potassium (also called RAL)
Tivicay dolutegravir sodium (also called DTG)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA


Other Integrase Inhibitors

Elivitegravir and bictegravir — These medicines are available only as a part of a single tablet regimen combination medicine. 

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • Before you take these medicines, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
  • Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines that you are taking. Integrase Inhibitors may cause serious health problems or death if mixed with other medicines.
  • These medications are taken by mouth.

Go Back to the Top


Fusion Inhibitors

Brand Name Other Names
Fuzeon enfuvirtide (also called T-20)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • Taking Fuzeon (enfuvirtide) with other HIV medicines may increase your risk of pneumonia. Tell your healthcare provider if you have a cough, fever, or trouble breathing.
  • This medication is a shot given under the skin.

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

Go Back to the Top


CCR5 Antagonists

Brand Name Other Names
Selzentry maraviroc (also called MVC)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • If you have liver problems, including Hepatitis B or C, should talk to your healthcare provider before taking Selzentry (maraviroc).
  • If you have kidney problems or heart problems, talk to your healthcare provider before taking Selzentry (maraviroc).
  • Tell your healthcare provider 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).  
  • This medication is taken by mouth.

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 urine (looks like tea)
  • Vomiting and stomach pain

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

  • Nausea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Fatigue

Go Back to the Top


 CD4 Post-Attachment Inhibitor

Brand Name Other Name
Trogarzo ibalizumab-uiyk

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • This medicine is used to treat HIV only in adults who:
    • have received several anti-HIV regimens in the past, and
    • have HIV-1 virus that is resistant to many antiretroviral medicines (ARTs), and
    • who are failing their current ART.
  • This medicine is given by your healthcare provider as an intravenous (IV) infusion.

 CYP3A Inhibitors 

 Brand Name  Other Names
Tybost cobicistat
Norvir ritonavir (also called RTV)

For more information about the risks and side effects for each medicine, check Drugs@FDA

This information does not give the specific side effects or warnings for each medicine. Check the medicine label and talk to your healthcare provider about the side effects and warnings for the combination HIV medicines you are taking.

IMPORTANT TIPS

  • Before taking these medicines, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. CYP3A inhibitors may interact with many different medicines. Some interactions can be serious. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines you take, including prescriptions, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements, like St. John’s Wort.
  • These medicines may reduce how well some (hormonal) birth control works. Talk to your healthcare provider about what medicine is best for you 
  • These medications are taken by mouth.

Go Back to the Top

HIV medicines and information are current as of September 2019. For more up-to-date information on medicines for treatment of HIV and AIDS, please see Drugs@FDA.

HIV Prevention: Medicine to Reduce HIV Risk

What is PrEP?

PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP is for adults who do not have HIV but are at high risk of becoming infected. As a part of PrEP, you can take a medicine every day to reduce the risk of getting the HIV virus through sex. Ask a healthcare provider whether PrEP is right for you.

Sign Up for a Pregnancy Registry

Pregnancy Registry Main Image

Pregnancy Exposure Registries are research studies that collect information from women who take prescription medicines or vaccines during pregnancy.

Pregnancy registries can help women and their doctors learn more about how HIV medicines affect women during pregnancy.

The FDA does not run pregnancy studies, but it keeps a list of registries. Check to see if there is a registry for your HIV medicines or other medicines at: www.fda.gov/pregnancyregistries

Go Back to the Top

To get other women’s health materials, go to: www.fda.gov/womens


Learn More

Resources For You