Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

AIDS Treatment

Treatment for HIV and AIDS includes anti-retroviral medications that lower the concentration of the HIV virus in the bloodstream. This protects the immune system from further damage caused by the virus. There are different classes of anti-retroviral drugs, each drug acts at different stage of the HIV life cycle. When multiple anti-retroviral drugs are taken in combination, the therapy is known as highly active anti-retroviral therapy, or HAART. Once a person is infected with HIV, life-long drug therapy is required to control the virus. Every three months, blood tests are required to monitor the illness. Long-term HAART can prevent the severe weakening of the immune system that signals the onset of AIDS. Treatment can allow an HIV-infected person to live a normal life.

HAART medications may slow the effects of HIV on the body, but there is no cure for HIV infection.

Treatment for HIV- AIDS may include:


Every 3 to 4 months blood testing needs to be performed to measure:

Every 6 months, HIV patients should be seen and evaluated by a physician to look for:

For more information:

AIDS Body Wasting

Involuntary weight loss is common in patients with advanced HIV infection and can be the presenting feature of AIDS. For this reason, an important part of the treatment of AIDS and HIV infection is providing a nutritious diet.

Medications used to treat weight loss in AIDS may include:

AIDS Diet

Nutritional goals for those with HIV infection and AIDS include:

  • Consume a high calorie, high protein diet.
  • Take a multivitamin with minerals, but do not take large doses of vitamins.

Nutritional Goals in HIV and AIDS
  • Maintain your weight.
  • Consume a high calorie, high protein diet.
  • Take a multivitamin with minerals, but do not take large doses of vitamins.
  • Avoid fad diets.

Tips on Increasing Your Caloric Intake
  • Include 2 or 3 snacks in your daily meal plan
  • Add milk, honey, sugar, margarine, oil and gravy to your food.
  • Add dry milk powder to mashed potatoes, casseroles, soups and pudding.
  • Drink whole milk or half-and-half rather than low fat milk.
  • Spread peanut butter on toast, waffles, bananas or apples.
  • Use sour cream, mayonnaise, whipped cream and jelly.
  • Add cheese to scrambled eggs, sandwiches, hamburgers, and vegetables.
  • Snack on nuts, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, and hard candies.
  • Try instant breakfast drinks or supplements:
    • Boost
    • Ensure

AIDS Fusion Inhibitors

Fusion inhibitors prevent the HIV virus from attaching to a cell. If the virus is unable to attach, the virus cannot enter and infect the cell.

Fusion inhibitors are used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV to prevent the virus from spreading in the body and to reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream.

Fusion inhibitors include:


Entry inhibitors include:

HIV integrase strand transfer inhibitors include:

AIDS Integrase Inhibitors

Integrase inhibitors work by inhibiting the enzyme integrase, which is responsible for integration of viral DNA into the DNA of the infected cell.

Integrase inhibitors are used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV to prevent the virus from spreading in the body and to reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream.

In 2007, the FDA approved raltegravir (Isentress) for use in individuals whose infection has proven resistant to other HAART drugs.

AIDS NNRTI Drugs

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI drugs) interfere with the production of new viruses. This is achieved by inhibiting the enzyme, reverse transcriptase. This enzyme allows the virus to copy its own RNA to produce viral DNA, which is then used to produce the virus. Without this enzyme, the virus cannot reproduce. In order to increase the effectiveness, these medications are used in combination with one or more of the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV to prevent the virus from spreading in the body and to reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream.

Examples include:

AIDS NRTI Drugs

Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI drugs) interfere with the production of new viruses. This is achieved by inhibiting the enzyme, reverse transcriptase. This enzyme allows the virus to copy its own RNA to produce viral DNA, which is then used to produce the virus. Without this enzyme, the virus cannot reproduce. In order to increase the effectiveness, these drugs are used in combination with one or more of the non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors are used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV to prevent the virus from spreading in the body and to reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream.

Examples include:


Drugs that combine a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor and a protease inhibitor include:

AIDS Protease Inhibitors

Protease inhibitors interfere with the production of new viruses. This is achieved by inhibiting the enzyme, protease, which is involved in the production of new viruses. Without this enzyme, the virus cannot reproduce.

Protease inhibitors are used in combination with other antiretroviral medications for the treatment of HIV to prevent the virus from spreading in the body and to reduce the amount of virus in the bloodstream.

Protease inhibitors include:


Drugs that combine two protease inhibitors include:

Drugs that combine a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor and a protease inhibitor include:

AIDS Questions For Doctor

The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of HIV infection and AIDS.

Questions to ask before treatment:

  • What are my treatment options?
  • What are the risks associated with treatment?
  • Do I need to stay in the hospital?
    • How long will I be in the hospital?
  • Am I contagious?
    • For how long?
  • What are the complications I should watch for?
  • How long will I be on medication?
  • What are the potential side effects of my medication?
  • Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
  • Should I take my medication with food?

Questions to ask after treatment:
  • Do I need to change my diet?
  • When can I resume my normal activities?
  • When can I return to work?
  • What else can I do to reduce my risk for infections?
  • How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
  • What local support and other resources are available?

AIDS Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat HIV infection and AIDS:

Continue to AIDS Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
Copyright DSHI Systems, Inc. Powered by: FreeMD - Your Virtual Doctor

PubMed AIDS References
  1. Aberg JA, Gallant JE, Anderson J, et al: Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: recommendations of the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis 2004 Sep 1; 39(5): 609-29. [15356773]
  2. Aberg JA, Kaplan JE, Libman H, Emmanuel P, Anderson JR, Stone VE, Oleske JM, Currier JS, Gallant JE; HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Primary care guidelines for the management of persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus: 2009 update by the HIV medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2009 Sep 1;49(5):651-81. [19640227]
  3. Chang R, Wong G, Gold J, et al: HIV-related emergencies: frequency, diagnoses, and outcome. J Gen Intern Med 1993 Sep; 8(9): 465-9. [8410417]
  4. Clumeck N: Choosing the best initial therapy for HIV-1 infection. N Engl J Med 1999 Dec 16; 341(25): 1925-6. [10601514]
  5. Hammer SM. Clinical practice. Management of newly diagnosed HIV infection. N Engl J Med. 2005 Oct 20;353(16):1702-10. [16236741]
  6. Knoll B, Lassmann B, Temesgen Z. Current status of HIV infection: a review for non-HIV-treating physicians. Int J Dermatol. 2007 Dec;46(12):1219-28. [18173512]
  7. McArthur JC, Brew BJ, Nath A. Neurological complications of HIV infection. Lancet Neurol. 2005 Sep;4(9):543-55. [16109361]
  8. Mylonakis E, Paliou M, Lally M, et al: Laboratory testing for infection with the human immunodeficiency virus: established and novel approaches. Am J Med 2000 Nov; 109(7): 568-76. [11063959]
  9. Paul SM, Sensakovic J, Podhurst LS, Morgan DH, Triano-Davis W. Managing HIV/AIDS patients. N J Med. 1998 May;95(5):55-60. [16013158]
  10. Treatment guidelines from the Medical Letter: Drugs for HIV Infection. Treat Guidel Med Lett 2004 Jan; 2(17): 1-8. [15529108]
  11. Varghese GK, Crane LR: Evaluation and treatment of HIV-related illnesses in the emergency department. Ann Emerg Med 1994. Sep. (3): 503-11. [8080146]
FreeMD is provided for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for evaluation and treatment by a physician. Please review our terms of use.