HIV Medications

The first treatment for HIV, Azidothymidine (AZT) or the generic name zidovudine was introduced in 1987. Though initially developed as a potential cancer therapy, it was included in a screening program to identify drugs that could treat HIV. Though AZT was an exciting medical development, there were serious side effects, so further testing and trials to guide dosage and develop new drugs were important next steps. In 1997, HAART became the new standard of treatment, which combined drugs from different categories that were tailored to the individual by their physician. Below are some of the categories of current drugs, and there are now brand-name pills that combine the medicine from several categories into a single pill instead of the up to 20 individual pills that used to be common!

What does current HIV medicine do?

  • Prevents HIV from making copies of itself (NRTI’s, NNRTI’s, PI’s,  integrase inhibitors) 
  • Block the virus from entering key immune response cells (fusion inhibitors, CCR5 Antagonists, post-attachment inhibitors)
  • Some drugs increase the effectiveness of other HIV medications

Antiretroviral therapy for HIV infection

In the 1990s- A picture of 20 pills with varying appearance and the text Up to 20 pills daily, taken at different intervals throughout the day

Today- a picture of a single pill and the text As little as 1 pill per day, delivering multiple drugs

The hashtag 35 Years of AIDS is at the bottom

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Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD is Director of Adult Medicine at John Bell Health Center and Jonathan Lax Treatment Center of Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers. Dr. Gadegbeku is a Family Medicine Physician who specializes in primary care for all ages (from pediatrics to geriatrics)!

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Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr Cruz with PatientDr. Cruz is a board-certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development, and mentorship.


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