Q:

What medicines should you take for HIV?

A:

Quick Answer

A list of FDA-approved medicines for HIV is published on the AIDSinfo website maintained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Treatment based on these medicines is called antiretroviral therapy. It improves a patient’s quality of life but does not remove the HIV infection, HHS explains.

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Full Answer

HIV medicines prevent HIV cells from reproducing, lowering their threat to the body’s immune system, HHS states. HIV medicines cannot eliminate HIV from the body outright, but they can lower the amount of HIV cells present and significantly strengthen the immune system. Lowering the amount of HIV present in the body also decreases the likelihood of HIV being transmitted to others through sexual contact.

HIV medicines may lead to side effects, whether due to the effects of one medicine or the interaction between different types of medicines, HHS warns. Side effects range from mild but uncomfortable, such as experiencing dizziness or headaches, to potentially life-threatening, such as liver damage and mouth or tongue swelling.

Deviating from the prescribed schedule of taking HIV medicines may create drug resistance, HHS cautions. If the patient does not take medicine in the prescribed intervals and at the prescribed times, there is a chance that an HIV strain resistant to the prescribed medicine can develop. This can diminish or negate the effectiveness of the treatment.

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