MSD Manual

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Drugs for HIV Infection

Drugs for HIV Infection


Some Side Effects

Entry (fusion) inhibitors

Enfuvirtide (T-20)

Painful rash at the injection site and allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions (including rash, fever, chills, nausea, and low blood pressure), numbness and tingling in the hands and feet (peripheral neuropathy), insomnia, and loss of appetite

Increased risk of pneumonia

Maraviroc (a CCR-5 inhibitor)

Inadequate blood flow (ischemia) to the heart or heart attacks

Integrase inhibitors


Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions including rash (which is occasionally severe or life threatening), headache, insomnia, and muscle aches


Nausea and diarrhea


Allergic (hypersensitivity) reactions including rash (which is occasionally severe or life threatening) and muscle aches

Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors

All of these drugs

Rash (occasionally severe or life threatening) and liver dysfunction


Dizziness, sleepiness, nightmares, confusion, agitation, forgetfulness, and intense feelings of well-being (euphoria)


Severe or life-threatening rashes


Severe or life-threatening liver dysfunction and rashes, especially during the first 18 weeks of treatment


Depression, headache, and insomnia, but fewer side effects involving brain function than efavirenz

Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors

All of these drugs

Lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid, a waste product of metabolism), which can be life threatening, and liver damage

Abacavir (ABC)

A severe, sometimes fatal allergic reaction with fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, a sore throat, and/or cough

Loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting

Didanosine (ddI)

Peripheral nerve damage, possibly life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), nausea, diarrhea, and an enlarged liver

Emtricitabine (FTC)

Headache, nausea, diarrhea, and darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation), especially on the palms and soles

Lamivudine (3TC)

Headache, fatigue, and peripheral nerve damage

Rarely, pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)

Stavudine (d4T)

Peripheral nerve damage and loss of fat in the face, arms, and legs

Rarely, possibly life-threatening pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis)

Zalcitabine (ddC)

Peripheral nerve damage, possibly life-threatening pancreas inflammation, and mouth sores

Zidovudine (AZT or ZDV)

Anemia, susceptibility to infection (resulting from bone marrow damage), liver damage, weakness, and muscle aches

Rarely, pancreas inflammation

Nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors

Tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF)

Fewer side effects involving the kidneys and bone density than tenofovir disoproxil fumarate

Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)

Kidney injury

Decreased bone density

Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headache

Protease inhibitors

All of these drugs

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, increased levels of blood sugar and cholesterol (common), increased abdominal fat, liver dysfunction, and a bleeding tendency (particularly in people with hemophilia)

Amprenavir (APV)


Atazanavir (ATV)

Rash and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)


Liver injury

Headache, diarrhea, severe rash, fever, and allergic reactions



Indinavir (IND)

Kidney stones, rapid breakdown of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia), high blood sugar levels, liver problems, abdominal pain, and nausea

Lopinavir (LPV)

Mouth tingling and altered taste

Nelfinavir (NLF)


Ritonavir (RIT)

Mouth tingling and altered taste

Saquinavir (SQV)

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when used with ritonavir

Tipranavir (TPV)

Possibly life-threatening liver inflammation and bleeding within the brain

*All drugs, except enfuvirtide, are taken by mouth. Enfuvirtide is injected under the skin.

Side effects listed for the class of drug can occur when any drug in that class is used.