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Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the
combination of several antiretroviral medicines used to slow the rate at which
HIV makes copies of itself (multiplies) in the body. A
combination of three or more antiretroviral medicines is more effective than
using just one medicine (monotherapy) to treat HIV.
The use of
three or more antiretroviral medicines—sometimes referred to as an anti-HIV
"cocktail"—is currently the standard treatment for HIV infection. So far, this
treatment offers the best chance of preventing HIV from multiplying, which
immune system to stay healthy. The goal of
antiretroviral therapy is to reduce the amount of virus in your body (viral
load) to a level that can no longer be detected with current blood
Antiretroviral medicines that are often used to treat HIV
Some medicines are available combined together in one pill.
This reduces the number of pills to be taken each day.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health recommends using one of the following programs for people who begin treatment for HIV:1
Other drug combinations are approved and may be used in some cases.
Also, studies have shown that if you are not infected with HIV, taking antiretroviral medicines can protect you against HIV.2, 3 But to keep your risk low, you still need to use safer sex practices.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2013). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf.
Grant RM, et al. (2010). Preexposure chemoprophylaxis for HIV prevention
in men who have sex with men. New England Journal of Medicine, 363(27): 2588–2599.
Baeten JM, et al. (2012). Antiretroviral prophylaxis for HIV prevention in heterosexual men and women. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(5): 399–410.
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
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