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Raltegravir is available as pills. Usually, a pill is taken twice a day.
Raltegravir blocks the HIV integrase enzyme. This prevents HIV from multiplying. When the amount of virus in the blood is kept at a minimum, the immune system has a chance to recover and grow stronger.
Raltegravir is used in combination with other antiretroviral medicines to treat HIV. It helps prevent the virus from spreading in the body and helps reduce the amount of virus in your blood (viral load). Raltegravir may be effective for people who have taken other anti-HIV drugs without success.
The use of three or more antiretroviral medicines (highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART) is the usual treatment for HIV infection.
The combination of medicines used for HAART will depend on your health, other conditions you might have (such as hepatitis), and results of testing. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for you.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that people begin treatment for HIV as soon as they know that they are infected.1 Treatment is especially important for pregnant women, people who have other infections (such as tuberculosis or hepatitis), and people who have symptoms of AIDS.
You may also want to start HIV treatment if your sex partner does not have HIV. Treatment of your HIV infection can help prevent the spread of HIV to your sex partner.2
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2012). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://aidsinfo.nih.gov/contentfiles/lvguidelines/adultandadolescentgl.pdf.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents (2011). Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Available online: http://www.aidsinfo.nih.gov/ContentFiles/AdultandAdolescentGL.pdf.
- Steigbigel RT, et al. (2008). Raltegravir with optimized background therapy for resistant HIV-1 infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(4): 339–354.
- Cooper DA, et al. (2008). Subgroup and resistance analyses of raltegravir for resistant HIV-1 infection. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(4): 355–365.
Last Revised: May 17, 2012
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