Counseling Sufferers with HIV/AIDS

Alvin B. Oung, Pharm.D., BCACP

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a single-stranded RNA retrovirus that when untreated, possesses insidious results towards the physique’s immune system, particularly the CD4 T-lymphocyte cells. Extended an infection and a discount of 1’s CD4 depend under 200 cells per cubic millimeter, outlined as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), can result in extreme immunosuppression and resultant opportunistic infections.

In the US, an estimated 1.1 million persons are dwelling with HIV, together with roughly 162,500 individuals which can be undiagnosed.1 Though no treatment presently exists, the arrival of antiretroviral remedy (ART) within the mid-1990s considerably lowered HIV-associated morbidity, mortality, and transmission.2 Here’s a evaluate of HIV/AIDS with a specific concentrate on counseling factors and important data to know as a pharmacist:


HIV is primarily transmitted by way of Three modes: sexual transmission, parenteral transmission, and perinatal transmission. Thus, there are various obtainable methods to successfully forestall HIV transmission. The CDC recommends abstinence, limiting one’s variety of sexual companions, correct use of condoms with each sexual encounter, and by no means sharing needles.3 For sufferers who’re HIV-positive, adherence to HIV medicines is vital to sustaining enough viral suppression, consequently lowering the danger of each vertical and horizontal transmission. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) can be provided to sufferers at very excessive danger for HIV from intercourse or injecting medicine. Presently, emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Truvada, Gilead) is the one FDA-approved remedy for PrEP. Sufferers ought to be endorsed to take this treatment day by day and to take care of common visits and testing as instructed by their well being care supplier (HCP).


There are actually greater than 40 FDA-approved antiretroviral (ARV) medicines categorized inside 7 mechanistic lessons. These 7 lessons embody the nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), nucleoside/nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), protease inhibitors (PIs), integrase strand switch inhibitors (INSTIs), a fusion inhibitor, a C-C chemokine receptor sort 5 antagonist, and a CD4 post-attachment inhibitor. As well as, there are 2 medicine, ritonavir and cobicistat, which can be used solely as pharmacokinetic (PK) boosters/enhancers to enhance the PK profiles of different ARV medicines.

Present pointers advocate that the preliminary ARV routine for a treatment-naïve affected person embody 2 NRTIs together with an INSTI, boosted PI, or NNRTI. Actually, number of an preliminary routine ought to be individualized primarily based on virologic efficacy, potential hostile results, childbearing potential and use of efficient contraception, capsule burden, dosing frequency, drug-drug-interactions, comorbid situations, value, entry, and resistance check outcomes.2 As a result of a lot of this data is predicated on medical trial information, keep in mind that guideline suggestions are all the time topic to alter and are rapidly adapting to the rising variety of brokers obtainable. Within the final 6 years alone, there have been 9 guideline updates.2


Medicine adherence is a vital part of HIV remedy because it reduces the danger of drug resistance, remedy failure, and HIV transmission. Earlier research have proven 40–60% of sufferers being lower than 90% adherent, which is regarding as adherence additionally appears to lower over time.4  Traditionally, near-perfect adherence (>95%) has been required to forestall resistance and to acquire full viral suppression.5,6 Single-tablet regimens, versus multi-tablet regimens, are thought to enhance general adherence charges, though definitive information is proscribed.

Nonetheless, sufferers ought to be endorsed on using efficient methods together with capsule packing containers, alarms, reminders, paper or digital treatment diaries, and/or help teams. Household and associates can be nice helps though one should stay delicate to the confidentiality and privateness of sufferers. Lastly, sufferers ought to be inspired to take care of sincere and open communication with their well being care suppliers. Solely with transparency and trusting patient-provider relationships can HCPs assist handle the considerations and wishes of the affected person.

Security (Antagonistic results, monitoring)

Whereas newer ARV regimens are typically related to fewer uncomfortable side effects than these previously, hostile and insupportable uncomfortable side effects of ART stay a major motive for switching or discontinuing remedy, in addition to for treatment nonadherence. Medicine hostile results exist on a spectrum and might vary from delicate rashes and GI upset to extra severe results equivalent to hypersensitivity, metabolic disturbances, cardiac conduction abnormalities, and nephrotoxicity. As well as, because the life expectancy of sufferers on ART will increase, there was an added focus from solely avoiding early ARV-related toxicities to avoiding problems in the long run as properly.2 Affected person comorbidities and concomitant medicines ought to be fastidiously evaluated and sufferers ought to be inspired to repeatedly handle their considerations at every followup go to. 

Drug-Drug Interactions

Drug-drug interactions (DDIs) between ARV medicines and concomitant medicines are widespread as many ARV medicines are potent cytochrome P450 3A4 enzyme inhibitors, inducers, or each. As well as, PK interactions can happen anytime through the treatment’s absorption, metabolism, or elimination section, resulting in decreased or elevated drug publicity.2

A great rule of thumb is to all the time display screen for DDIs and to contemplate monitoring for therapeutic efficacy. Widespread brokers chargeable for DDIs embody acid-reducing brokers, polyvalent cations/anions, and potent inhibitors/inducers of the cytochrome P450 system, p-glycoprotein, or uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase (UGT) enzyme. Sufferers ought to be suggested to alert their pharmacist and HCPs of any modifications or additions of their concomitant medicines, together with complementary and different therapies.


HIV remedy continues to advance and evolve over time. Due to this fact, it’s prudent for pharmacists to remain present with these therapies and prevention methods, as they’re well-positioned to teach and help sufferers of their sickness.


Alvin B. Oung, PharmD, BCACP is a medical assistant professor on the College of Wyoming College of Pharmacy in Laramie, WY. 


  1. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Estimated HIV incidence and prevalence in the US, 2010–2016. HIV Surveillance Supplemental Report 2019;24(1). Printed February 2019. Accessed June 1, 2019.
  2. Panel on Antiretroviral Pointers for Adults and Adolescents. Pointers for using antiretroviral brokers in adults and adolescents dwelling with HIV. Division of Well being and Human Providers. Up to date October 2018. Accessed June 1, 2019
  3. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. HIV Fundamentals: Prevention. Up to date January 2019. Accessed June 1, 2019.
  4. Bartlett JA. Addressing the challenges of adherence. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2002; 29 Suppl 1:S2-10.
  5. Paterson DL, Swindells S, Mohr  J, et al. Adherence to protease inhibitor remedy and outcomes in sufferers with HIV an infection. Ann Intern Med. 2000;133(1):21-30
  6. Smith RJ. Adherence to antiretroviral HIV medicine: what number of doses are you able to miss earlier than resistance emerges? Proc Biol Sci. 2006; 273(1586):617-624.


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