Five Classes of Antiretroviral
Drugs for Treating AIDS
Research is still going on for treatments and vaccines that will help an AIDS patient. There is no cure for
AIDS. Drugs are used to prolong and give the patient a better quality of life. A lot has been
accomplished since the
early 80’s when AIDS was first discovered, but scientists do not see a
cure coming soon. It takes years to find a drug that will work to either boost the immune system, or fight
the destruction of the white blood cells. Clinical trials are still needed to find drugs that work and each
individual will respond to these drugs in their own way.
Although there is no cure for AIDS, drugs have been developed to inhibit growth and reproduction of the
HIV. Five classes of drugs are available.
Nucleoside analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors were the first antiretroviral drugs to be developed.
The slow down the multiplication of an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. This class includes the
drugs, Retrovir, Epivir, Videx, Hivid, Zerit and Ziagen. These drugs must be used in a combination with two
other AIDS drugs that will treat both HIV and hepatitis B. There are serious side effects for each of these
drugs. The symptoms will usually appear in the first few weeks of treatment and will disappear if the drugs
are stopped. Some side effects include, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fatigue, and trouble breathing.
Protease inhibitors are drugs that will stop the HIV reproduction when the disease is in a later stage.
This drug causes the HIV particles in your body to become nonorganized and noninfectious. Drugs in this class
are Norvir, Crixivan, Viracept, Reyataz, Aptivus Prezista and Agenerase. Some patients who have not responded
to other AIDS medications may respond with this class of drugs. Most are used with other AIDS
medications. The most common side effects of protease inhibitors are stomach and digestive problems such as
diarrhea and vomiting. A problem with the metabolism of sugar is a side effect of some of the newer protease
Did You Know?
Since 1981 when the HIV and Aids was first recognized as something new in the
medical world, researchers and scientists have been working to learn as much about the new disease
as possible. So far they have determined the virus is spread by contact with another contaminated
person’s body fluids.
This could be through contact with blood, semen, and vaginal fluids. Once the body
has the HIV virus it begins to produce more HIV particles and these begin attacking the T-cells.
The T-cells or CD4 cells burst and that allows the virus to enter the bloodstream and invade other
cells. You should already know the difference between HIV and AIDS. HIV is a subgroup of
retroviruses that cause AIDS.
The virus kills cells in the body’s immune system and progressively destroys the
body’s ability to fight infections. This inability to fight off infections also affects some
cancers too. HIV gradually gets worse until the body is no longer able to fight off the infections
and other bacteria that would normally not make people sick.
These opportunistic infections will attack the body and could be potentially life
threatening. AIDS is the acronym for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome. It was first recognized in
New York City in 1981. The virus was isolated and identified in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1985 that
a diagnostic test was developed to test for the disease.
The third-class of AIDS drugs is NNRTIs or nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. This class of
drugs will bind to the enzyme reverse transcriptase. Side effects for this class include sleeplessness,
abnormal dreams, trouble in concentrating, and dizziness.
The fourth class works much like the third-class. They prevent the virus from putting its genetic material
into the cells. This class will work faster and are effective for patients who are resistant to NNRTIs.
There can be a fatal complication of liver damage by taking this class of drugs for AIDS treatment.
The best way to avoid HIV aids is to avoid taking part in risky behavior, so make
sure to not have unprotected sex and make sure to use sterilized needles for injections.
Fusion inhibitors are drugs that are used on patients with a drug resistant form of HIV. Many
people with AIDS are resistant to at least one drug and many will not respond to a three-drug combination.
These new classes of drugs called inhibitors are given by injection and suppress some resistant strains of the HIV
virus. When you are being medicated with any of these classes of drugs, you will have your viral load tested
every three to four months.