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 after eight weeks of pregnancy or raltegravir twice daily) or a PI (atazanavir or darunavir boosted with ritonavir). UK guidelines recommend efavirenz or boosted atazanavir.

There is still limited information about safety on some of the newer HIV drugs.

Some drugs, combinations or schedules are not recommended in pregnancy. For example darunavir or elvitegravir boosted with cobicistat or once-daily raltegravir.

Conceiving on dolutegravir, or taking
it in the first trimester, is not currently recommended. This is because of a possible increased risk of neural tube defects. But taking it later in pregnancy appears to be safe.

If you are already taking dolutegravir and wish to conceive you will be advised to switch to an alternative ART regimen.

If you find out you are pregnant after 8 weeks of pregnancy (first trimester) you will not be recommended to change ART.

If you are planning to become pregnant when you start ART, you should discuss this with your doctor before conceiving.

All pregnant women diagnosed during pregnancy should start lifelong ART.

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

Last updated: 1 April 2019.