Raltegravir is available as pills. Usually, a pill is taken
twice a day.
How It Works
Raltegravir blocks the HIV integrase
enzyme. This prevents HIV from multiplying. When the
amount of virus in the blood is kept at a minimum, the
immune system has a chance to recover and grow
Why It Is Used
Raltegravir is used in combination with
other antiretroviral medicines to treat
HIV. It helps prevent the virus from spreading in the
body and helps reduce the amount of virus in your blood (viral load). Raltegravir may be effective for people who have taken other
anti-HIV drugs without success.
The use of three or more
antiretroviral medicines (highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART) is the usual treatment for HIV infection.
combination of medicines used for HAART will depend on your health, other
conditions you might have (such as
hepatitis), and results of testing. Talk to your
doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
suggest the following for people with HIV:1, 2, 3
- When considering treatment, experts currently consider your CD4+
cell count and the presence or absence of symptoms more important than your
- If your
CD4+ cell count is below 500 cells per microliter
(mcL), treatment is recommended to help keep your immune system healthy and
to prevent AIDS.
- If your CD4+ cell count is greater than 500, you may want to consider treatment.
- If treatment is not started, your condition will be
monitored with frequent CD4+ cell counts.
- If you have symptoms of
HIV or AIDS, doctors recommend starting treatment, whatever your CD4+ cell
- If you are pregnant, you should be treated to prevent your unborn
baby (fetus) from becoming infected with HIV.
you also have
hepatitis B and are starting treatment for it, you
should begin treatment for HIV as well.
You may also want to start HIV treatment if your sexual partner does not have HIV. Treatment of your HIV infection can help prevent the spread of HIV to your sexual partner.3
HIV: When Should I Start Antiretroviral Medicines for HIV Infection?
HIV: Taking Antiretroviral Drugs
How Well It Works
Raltegravir works well with other
antiretroviral medicines to improve CD4+ cell counts and reduce viral
The most common side effects of raltegravir
include diarrhea, nausea, headache, and fever.
See Drug Reference
for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all
What To Think About
be used to treat a pregnant woman only if the potential benefit is greater than
the risk to the developing baby (fetus).
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2009). Guidelines for the use of antiretroviral agents in HIV-1-infected adults and adolescents. Available online: http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf.
Hammer, Scott M, et al. (2008). Antiretroviral
treatment of adult HIV infection: 2008 recommendations of the International
AIDS Society USA Panel. JAMA, 300 (5):
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2011). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf.
Steigbigel RT, et al. (2008). Raltegravir with
optimized background therapy for resistant HIV-1 infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(4): 339-354.
Cooper DA, et al. (2008). Subgroup and resistance
analyses of raltegravir for resistant HIV-1 infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(4): 355-365.