HIV treatment: reasons to review it

Written by Robert

We’ve come a long way in HIV treatment

Medicines to treat HIV were initially identified in the late 1980s and early 1990s. With the advent of a class of medicines called protease inhibitors, HIV treatment or ‘triple therapy’ as it was referred to became effective and durable.1 These treatments allow the immune system to repair itself and stop further damage by keeping HIV at undetectable levels.1,2

Triple therapy involved taking three medicines from two classes; typically, one protease inhibitor and two drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), or ‘nukes’. 2,3 This form of HIV treatment has been the norm for the majority of people living with HIV over the past two decades.4

Today there are better, more effective and tolerable medicines which means it is now possible to have the option of two-drug combinations as well as some newer three-drug combinations.2,4

Looking to the future

HIV is a lifelong condition, and today we can look forward to just that: a long life.5 If we are diagnosed in good time, and if we continue to take our treatment and look after ourselves, life expectancy for someone living with HIV is the same as for everyone else.5

As we rely on medication to stay healthy, any strategies that reduce the number of pills we must take6 and the impact of taking medicine long-term are welcomed by people living with HIV, healthcare providers and health care systems.   

Your doctor will be able to advise you about the latest treatment. But be careful, not all medicines are suited to a 2-drug regimen and your healthcare team will be able to advise you what has been studied in clinical trials and which medicines are approved for this approach.

As with other treatment strategies, there will be a range of options for you and your doctor to choose from, so you can find the combination that is right for you. HIV treatment is always evolving and improving.

Your healthcare team will regularly review your treatment regimen. Ask them if a simplified regimen would be beneficial for you.

  1. Antiretroviral Drug Discovery and Development. Available at: [Accessed August 2020].
  2. Treatment: HIV and AIDS. Available at: [Accessed August 2020].
  3. Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs). Available at: [Accessed August 2020].
  4. Badowski M, et al. Infect Dis Ther. 2020;9:185–208.
  5. Life expectancy for people with HIV. Available at:
     [Accessed May 2020].
  6.  Zhou S, et al. 2014;28:311–317.
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