This guide includes information about the most important aspects of HIV treatment. It is written and reviewed by HIV positive people and it uses everyday language to explain medical terms.
Current edition July 2014.
4-page ARV drug chart – PDF (July 2014 update)
- What is combination therapy?
- Do the drugs really work?
- Does everyone need treatment?
- CD4 and viral load: two essential blood tests
- Your CD4 count and the risk of becoming ill
- How do the drugs work?
- How long will the drugs work?
- Can I take a break in my treatment?
- Does treatment always work?
- Can I change treatments?
- What is ‘treatment-naive’?
- Should I enter a study?
- What about alcohol and recreational drugs?
- What else do I need to know?
- Are the drugs a cure?
- How do children use HIV treatment?
- Is age an important factor in adults?
- Age, HIV drugs and heart disease
- What about treatment in pregnancy?
- Is gender important in response to treatment?
- Trans* people and HIV treatment
- When should I start treatment?
- CD4 count and guidelines
- Late diagnosis and low CD4s
- Early diagnosis and primary infection
- Using treatment at higher CD4 counts: the START trial
- What about side effects?
- Common side effects
- Metabolic changes: how your body processes fat and sugar
- Other side effects
- Adherence and why it is so important
- Adherence tips
- What if I forget to take my pills?
- Adherence diary
- What is resistance?
- How do I avoid resistance?
- How a missed or late dose increases the risk of resistance
- Main types of HIV drugs
- What is the best combination?
- HIV lifecycle – how drugs work in different ways
- First combination meds
- The two nukes
- Choice of the third component
- Efavirenz – an NNRTI
- Boosted PIs: atazanavir or darunavir
- Integrase inhibitors
- Alternative first-line options
- Other meds that are sometimes used
- Non-standard combinations
- Antiretroviral drugs: illustrated pill chart
Additional thanks to Miguel Vázquez at gTt and to Neal Marshall at the HIV Pharmacist Group for further proofing and comments – and to Hosanna, Lenny, Matt, Memory, Nathan, Paul, Polly, Simon, Vladimir, Winnie and Xavi for permission to include quotes from their experience.
Design by No Days Off. Funding thanks to The Monument Trust.
Not-for-profit copying is encouraged or call for additional free copies.
Information about how we produced this guide and the importance of using language that is direct and easy to understand.
This includes information on how to write non technical medical information that may be useful as a resource for other organisations.
1 June 2014