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Treatment of HIV Infection

Photo of a variety of different drug treatments.
Photo of a variety of different drug treatments.
Credit: NIAID

In the early 1980s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, people with AIDS were not likely to live longer than a few years.

Today, there are 31 antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat HIV infection. These treatments do not cure people of HIV or AIDS. Rather, they suppress the virus, even to undetectable levels, but they do not completely eliminate HIV from the body. By suppressing the amount of virus in the body, people infected with HIV can now lead longer and healthier lives. However, they can still transmit the virus and must continuously take antiretroviral drugs in order to maintain their health quality.

HIV/AIDS Treatment Research

NIAID is focused on finding new and more effective therapies, drug classes, and antiretroviral drug combinations that can extend and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. NIAID supports research that advances our understanding of HIV and how it causes disease, thereby unlocking new targets for drug development. Promising medicines are then tested in human clinical trials to determine whether they are safe and effective. This process usually takes several years to complete before a new therapy is available to the public.

Learn More About HIV/AIDS Treatments

To learn more about NIAID HIV/AIDS treatment research activities, visit the Therapeutics Research Page.

Current information on federally and privately funded clinical trials for people with HIV/AIDS is available at

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Last Updated November 14, 2012