HIV? Understand your Anti-Retrovirals

What is ART?

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the term for treatment that uses three or more ARVs to treat HIV. ARV stands for antiretroviral. This is because HIV is a retrovirus.

ART is also called: Combination therapy, ARV therapy, Triple therapy, cART (combination antiretroviral therapy), HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy).

unlike most infectious illnesses, HIV is difficult to treat because the virus Hijacks the body's Immune System to reproduce itself very quickly and in large quantities. If treatment is not strong enough or if doses of medication are missed, then drug resistance can easily develop.

Combination treatment works because there are usually at least three different drugs actively fighting the virus in two or three different ways. If some of your virus is resistant to one drug, the other drugs might still suppress it.

In every country that uses ART, the number of AIDS-related deaths and illnesses drop dramatically.

Treatment works for women, men and children. It works no matter how you were infected with HIV — whether this was sexually, through IV drug use, at birth or by blood transfusion. Taking HIV drugs, exactly as prescribed, will reduce the virus in your body to tiny amounts that your Immune System can handle and maintain at an undetectable level.


Like every living thing, HIV needs to reproduce itself in order to survive.

HIV does this inside CD4 cells – and this involves many different stages. HIV drugs work by interfering with some of these stages.

There are currently six classes of drugs:

Entry inhibitors work by stopping HIVfrom entering into the CD4 Immune cell. These include fusion inhibitors and CCR5 inhibitors.

Nucleoside and nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (nukes or NRTIs). These work by stopping one of the main ways HIV reproduces inside the CD4 cell.

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (non-nukes or NNRTIs). These work by stopping one of the other ways HIV reproduces inside the CD4 cell.

Integrate inhibitors (INIs), work by stopping HIV from being integrated into the CD4 cell’s DNA

Protease inhibitors (PIs), work by stopping any new HIV from being cut into smaller, manageable proteins.

Budding and maturation inhibitors (research stage only), work by stopping any new HIV from being able to go on to infect other CD4 cells. None are currently approved.

Testing for HIV gives you the Freedom to Create a Health Strategy Early. Visit us for Counselling and Testing. You do not have to live in fear or walk the Journey Alone

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