HIV can be a devastating virus for the immune system, but only if untreated. While in the past HIV had been considered to be a death sentence leading to AIDS this is no longer the case. Currently, millions around the world are infected with HIV and are still going strong thanks to new HIV treatment options designed to fight and control the virus. While there is no cure for HIV, these medications can help individuals affected by HIV live longer, healthier lives. Additionally, they can help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. They work by preventing the virus from copying itself, thereby reducing the amount of HIV in your body. Further, these medications give the immune system a chance to fight of diseases and infections, as well as cancer. Often these medications are taken in combination with other medications. While there are different classes of medications, they are all grouped together in what is known as antiretroviral therapy. The top 3 HIV treatments include non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors NNRTIs, protease inhibitors (PIs) and fusion inhibitors. Keep reading to learn more about these cutting-edge HIV treatment options.
Top HIV Treatment Options
- Fusion Inhibitors
Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, or NNRTIs, are a class of HIV drug in which NNRTIs bind to an HIV enzyme and block it, so that the HIV cannot replicate. By blocking the HIV enzyme that allows HIV to convert its RNA into DNA, this prevents the HIV from replicating so that the amount of HIV in the body can be controlled. NNRTIs can be found under the brand names: Viramune, Sustiva, Intelence and Rescriptor. These medications are usually used in combination with other medications, particularly NRTIs which are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Over the years these medications have proven to be incredibly effective and have shown much promise in patients around the world.
- Prevents HIV from replicating
- Can be used in combination with other medications
- Are readily available with a prescription
Protease inhibitors, or PIs, work to block the actions of an HIV enzyme called protease. By blocking this protease, the PI can prevent a new HIV from becoming a mature virus. This is extremely important, because when HIV matures it can infect other proteins on the surface of cells that are vital to immune system functioning, thereby weakening the immune system. New HIV cells that have not matured cannot infect other cells. Name brands of PIs include Norvir, Lexiva, Aptivus and Kaletra.
- Keeps immune system relatively strong
- Blocks HIV protease from maturing HIV
- Taken as easy to swallow pills
Fusion Inhibitors are quite different from the other medications listed above, in that they are not taken as pills. Fusion Inhibitors are administered twice a day, under the skin, which can cause pain and redness at the site of injection. These fusion inhibitors work by blocking the HIV envelope from merging with a CD4 cell membrane, the protein found on white blood cells, necessary for immune function. And because the HIV needs to pass through the membrane to infect the cell, it cannot do so, keeping the CD4 cell healthy and strong.
- Taken twice a day, as an injection
- Prevents HIV from infecting CD4 cells
- Prevents replication of HIV
Antiretroviral therapy is the best hope for HIV patients. With so many classes of medications available in this category, patients are sure to find a solution that works for them. With one or a combination of these medications, HIV patients have an opportunity to live relatively long and healthy lives. Talk to a doctor to learn more.