Skip to content

    HIV & AIDS Health Center

    Font Size

    Best AIDS Cocktails for Beginners

    Which Drugs to Try First? New Data Guides Crucial Choice
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

    July 12, 2002 -- If you have HIV, your life depends on an important choice: which AIDS drugs should you try first? Now you don't have to rely on those glossy ads from the drug companies, thanks to reports from this week's International AIDS Conference.

    AIDS doctors know that no later treatment will work as well as your first anti-HIV regimen. That means you want to pick the most effective drugs with the least worrisome side effects and the most convenient dosing. But with 17 different formulations to pick from, it's hard for you -- and your doctor -- to know what to do.

    Clever new studies now offer enormous help. They show that particular drugs appear to be especially powerful and durable. In his presentation to the AIDS conference -- available by webcast at the official conference website -- Harvard's Daniel R. Kuritzkes, MD, summed up the findings.

    When someone is diagnosed with HIV, they are started on multiple medications in order to hit the virus hard. The best initial regimen should include at least Sustiva or Kaletra (along with Norvir), Kuritzkes says.

    In an exciting, late-breaking report on the last day of the AIDS conference, Harvard's Gregory Robbins, MD, MPH, and Stanford's Robert Shafer, MD, reported data from an NIH-sponsored trial. It showed that regimens containing Sustiva worked better than those containing Viramune. When compared with several different drug combinations, drug cocktails containing Sustiva continued to come up on top.

    So, a person who has never before taken HIV drugs is probably better off beginning with Sustiva combined with two other powerful drugs.

    One factor that has a huge influence on starting regimens is whether a person is infected by an HIV strain that's already resistant to some anti-HIV drugs. An editorial in the July 10 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association -- by Joel D. Trachtenberg, MD, and Merle A. Sande, MD of the University of Utah -- warns that drug resistance to drugs such as Sustiva is increasing. That may mean that some people will get less benefit from Sustiva than others. Findings such as these make it important to test a patient's HIV for resistance before starting treatment.

    Today on WebMD

    How much do you know?
    contemplative man
    What to do now.
    Should you be tested?
    HIV under microscope
    What does it mean?
    HIV AIDS Screening
    man opening condom wrapper
    HIV AIDS Treatment
    Discrimination Stigma
    Treatment Side Effects
    grilled chicken and vegetables
    obese man standing on scale
    cold sore