D R . E L R O I


Friday, August 22, 2008

What Is ARV?

I have been talking about ARV previously but let's take a deeper look on what ARV is.

ARV or antiretroviral is the drug used to strengthen the immune system of people living with HIV & AIDS. The aim of this drug is to reduce the rate at which the virus multiplies in the CD4 cell or T-helper cell. It is imperative to realize that ARV DOES NOT KILL HIV. What they do is block the virus' growth. If a person stops taking ARV, the virus immediately starts multiplying again. The HIV can quickly build up resistance against one or even two drugs; therefore these drugs are normally used in combinations of three - one non-nuke with two nukes, or one protease with two nukes. This is often referred to as triple therapy, combination therapy or a drug cocktail.

Non-nuke is the short term for Non-nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors. It interrupts the reverse transcriptase process but do so in a different way to the "nukes". Examples of this drug are delaviridine, efavirenz or sustiva and of the three drugs I am taking which is nevirapine.

Nukes are also known as Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors. These drugs interrupt the reverse transcriptase process. They block or disable the "translator or intrepreter virus". Example of these drugs are d4T or stavudine, ddl or didanosine, ddc or zalcitabine, abacavir and the other two drugs I am taking which are AZT or zidovudine and 3TC or lamivudine.

Protease inhibitors are drugs that foil replication by neutralising the protease enzyme that puts new HIV together. Some of the examples of these drugs are saquinavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, amprenavir and ritonavir.

Entry inhibitors are the newest class of drugs against HIV. They stop the virus from getting into the CD4 cell. While the first three classes of drugs are relatively cheap and widely available, these are very expensive and not easily available. Enfuvirtide or T20 is an example of protease inhibitors.

I'll talk about the drawbacks and then the benefits of taking ARV on my next posts.

Source: "Channels of Hope" workshop manual.

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