HIV as we all know is the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). Until now, there is no proven medication to treat AIDS. However, HIV medications have been developed since the 80s.
Until now, the HIV medications are created during each stage of its life cycle. And so, in order to find suitable HIV medications, we must first understand HIV’s stages of growth to find effective medications for each stage.
We will start with the first stage. During this stage, HIV is like a soul without a body. In order to reproduce, it must hijack another cell to reproduce. HIV’s main target is the T4-lymphocyte or what we call as the white blood cells. HIV then injects its own DNA into the DNA of T4 cell. When T4 cell wants to reproduce, accidentally it also reproduces the DNA of HIV. From then on, replication happens. During this stage, entry inhibitors medications are needed to prevent HIV from entering healthy T4 cells. Entry inhibitors are like a firewall that prevents HIV from gaining access to the DNA of healthy T cells in the body. Certified drugs during this stage are the Enfurvitide (ENF Fuzeon) and Maraviroc (MVC). ENF costs $53.9 per day while MVC costs $29.
The second stage is the reverse transcription. When HIV infects the T cells, it infects RNA into the T cell’s DNA. However, in order to reproduce it must be converted to DNA. To convert to DNA, it needs HIV’s transcriptase enzyme. Medications for this stage are called Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs) and Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs). Basically what they do is to prevent the DNA from being built up correctly. In turn, HIV’s RNA can’t be incorporated into the cell’s DNA correctly and preventing them from reproduce. Some of the drugs in the market are Efavirenz (EFV), Zidovudine (AZT) and Didanosine (ddl).
Upon reaching this stage, it is called integration. Upon binding itself to the T cell, a viral enzyme called integrase will try to hide the HIV’s proviral DNA into the healthy cell’s DNA. Integration can be prevented by integrase inhibitors. Medications during this stage are still in the earliest stage of research. One approved drug is the Raltegravir (RGV). The cost of this drug is $27 per day.
In this stage, the virus has invaded the T cell and becomes a new boss of the cell. The viral DNA then separate and messenger RNA (mRNA) are created to send instructions to produce new HIV. Medications for this stage are transcription inhibitor (TIs) that is still in the earliest stage of research. Translation process occurs when mRNA is being transformed into viral proteins that are needed to produce new HIVs.
The last step in producing new HIVs is viral assembly and maturation. Proteins are cut up by protease into smaller proteins which serve a variety of functions. After the new viral particles are assembled, the original T cell which is the host is ignored and a new virus is created, or a soul with a body. The new virus then enters the maturation stage. This stage is required to make the virus infectious by processing viral proteins. This stage can be blocked by Protease Inhibitors and Maturation Inhibitors. Some medications for this stage are Amprenavir (APV), Saquinavir (SQV) and Bevirimat which is still in the experimental stage.
So by now you should have understand and known which drugs are suitable for any particular stages. It is advisable to conduct more research on your own in order to catch with new and more effective medications.