Multiple drugs are available as treatments for HIV, including AZT, ABC, d4T, ddl and ddC, according to WebMD. As of 2015, there are 25 antiretrovirals in six major categories, which are prescribed to HIV-positive individuals based on their health history, immune system and personal preferences.
The six main classes of antiretrovirals are non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, fusion inhibitors, CCR5 antagonists and integrase strand transfer inhibitors, reports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These medications are grouped according to the way in which they fight HIV infection.
HIV medications often have side effects, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue and dizziness, according to WebMD. Other common effects include skin rashes, difficulty sleeping, numbness, and pain or tingling. However, these side effects generally fade over time as the body adjusts to the medication. Patients should report their side effects to their doctors, especially if they are particularly unpleasant or not abating with time, so that they can discuss options for alternative combinations or dosages that still effectively treat the infection while reducing the unpleasant effects. Patients should never stop taking HIV medications without first consulting their doctor, because this could give the infection a chance to develop further.