What HIV drugs will I take?

ART is usually a combination (or regimen) consisting of:

  • Two HIV drugs from a family called NRTIs. This stand for nucleoside or nucleotide reverse-transcriptase inhibitor.
  • A third drug from a different HIV drug class. This will be an NNRTI (a non-nucleoside reverse- transcriptase inhibitor), an integrase inhibitor, or a boosted protease inhibitor (PI).

The NRTIs are most likely to be tenofovir and FTC (emtricitabine). Or you might take abacavir with 3TC (lamivudine). In some cases you might take AZT (zidovudine) with 3TC.

The third drug is likely to be: an NNRTI (efavirenz or rilpivirine), an integrase inhibitor (dolutegravir) or a PI (atazanavir or darunavir boosted with ritonavir or cobicistat).

There is still limited information about safety on some of the newer HIV drugs (eg dolutegravir, rilpivirine and cobicistat). If you are planning to become pregnant when you start ART, you should discuss this with your doctor before conceiving.

Some combinations have all your drugs in a single daily pill. This is called a fixed dose combination. Some have the two NRTIs in the same pill with the third drug taken separately (ie either two or three pills each day).

The i-Base guide Introduction to ART has more about each HIV drug.

Last updated: 1 December 2015.