There are many types of medication for the treatment of HIV infection. For the most up to date information about specific mediations, please visit or, under the category “Treatment.”

Below you can find general information about the different types of HIV medication that are used to treat HIV.

HIV Medication Facts

  • There are many HIV medications available that have been approved by the U.S. government.
  • No drug currently on the market can cure HIV infection.
  • No one drug alone can provide effective HIV treatment but there are one pill medications that are a combination of more than one drug that are effective treating in HIV.
  • When several medications are used in combination, they can effectively control HIV and maintain the health of your immune system. This combination is called ART or HAART. There are 5 classes of HIV medication in use today. All are designed to interfere with the ability of HIV to reproduce itself inside your body. Each class stops the virus at a different point in its reproductive cycle.
  • PIs (protease inhibitors)
  • NRTIs (nucleoside or nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors)
  • NNRTIs (non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors)
  • Entry Inhibitors
  • Integrase Inhibitors

For more information on the most current HIV drugs, please visit or, under the category “Treatment”.

Protease Inhibitors (PI)

Protease inhibitors stop infected cells from reproducing the virus (blocking a protein called Protease which is necessary for production of infectious viral particles). The use of antiretroviral medications has dramatically changed the quality and quantity of life for persons living with HIV infection.

Nucleoside or Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs)

NRTIs block an enzyme needed by HIV to make copies of itself through a process called reverse transcription.

HIV uses reverse transcriptase to convert RNA into DNA. DNA is the genetic structure that makes us who we are. Once the virus’s DNA has been integrated into the body’s natural DNA, HIV becomes a lifelong infection.  The NRTIs stop the virus’s ability to create its DNA inside the nucleus of a healthy human cell. Because HIV cannot infect that cell, this breaks the viral DNA replication chain.

Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs)

NNRTIs bind to and alter reverse transcriptase, an enzyme HIV needs to make copies of itself. The NNRTIs attach themselves directly to reverse transcriptase so that viral RNA cannot be converted into DNA, thus preventing further replication of the virus.

Entry Inhibitors (includes Fusion Inhibitors)

This class of drugs interferes with fusion and entry of the HIV virus into human CD4 cells (CD4 is a kind of cell that helps the body fight an infection). By blocking this step in HIV’s replication cycle, this drug can slow the progression from HIV infection to AIDS.

Integrase Inhibitors

This class of antiretroviral drugs is designed to block the viral enzyme, called Integrase, which is responsible for inserting the virus into the body’s DNA to make copies of itself.

New Drug Research

New drug classes are currently being developed and tested to create treatment variations for patients who have exhausted other options. Often, these new HIV treatment regimens use new combinations of drugs from different classes to simultaneously attack the HIV life cycle at different stages of development.

Medication Adherence

Adherence refers to sticking to your medication regimen (taking the prescribed medications on time, every time). Whether you’ve been on HIV medications for 10 years or are just starting out, it takes a strong personal commitment to take your medications to stay healthy. Non-adherence is the number one reason why HIV treatments fail and is vital to stay on your regimen with no inconsistencies.


For more information on the most current HIV drugs, please visit or, under the category “Treatment.”