Antiretroviral Therapy (ARV Therapy or ART)

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Also known as Combination Antiretroviral Therapy (cART) , Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), or HIV antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.

Highly Specialised Drugs (HSD) designed to act specifically against HIV replication – usually taken as a combination using at least 3 different drugs. The aim of this therapy is to supress the replication of HIV by inhibiting the function of HIV enzymes. HIV (ARV) therapy does not cure or completely eradicate HIV from the body. There are currently five classes (types) of HIV antiretroviral available: nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs); non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs); protease inhibitors (PIs); integrase strand transfer inhibitors (INSTIs); and entry inhibitors (EIs). The ‘class’ of drug describes which part of the HIV replication lifecycle that class inhibits. The number of drugs in each class provides options for choosing treatment combinations. Lists of current HIV antiretroviral treatments and drug classes are widely available on the internet, or ask your clinic or community organisation for a current list.

The Australian HIV treatment guidelines suggest all people with HIV should consider taking HIV treatment as close to diagnosis as possible (regardless of CD4 count), pending patient needs, circumstances and preparedness or willingness to commence treatment. Treatment Guidelines change often (based on new clinical research evidence). For current treatment guidelines visit: www.arv.ashm.org.au