Practice Guidelines

HIV Prevention and Treatment with ART: International Antiviral Society Updates Recommendations


Am Fam Physician. 2019 Mar 15;99(6):395-396.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Key Points for Practice

• ART should be prescribed and treatment barriers addressed soon after HIV infection is diagnosed.

• Before starting treatment, obtain HIV-1 RNA levels and a CD4 cell count; test for viral hepatitis, and perform blood chemistry testing and HIV genotyping for reverse transcriptase inhibitors and protease inhibitors.

• Assess treatment history, tolerance of various treatment options, other current medications, and results of previous resistance testing before changing therapy.

From the AFP Editors

Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is the key to preventing and managing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Based on the availability of new medications and treatment options, the USA Panel of the International Antiviral Society has updated its 2016 recommendations. The full guidance addresses when to start ART in patients with active opportunistic infection or malignancy; appropriate regimens, including in unique situations (e.g., pregnancy); switching regimens; laboratory monitoring; patient engagement and adherence; cost considerations; HIV infection prevention; and future directions.

Treatment Initiation

The following recommendations are based on evidence from at least one randomized controlled trial from a peer-reviewed journal. Unless a person has expressed interest in not initiating treatment, physicians should prescribe ART immediately after HIV infection is diagnosed, including addressing treatment barriers to allow for ART initiation at the first office visit as appropriate. Most persons with opportunistic infections should receive ART within two weeks of diagnosis. Before starting treatment in any patient, HIV-1 RNA measurement; CD4 cell count; HIV genotyping for nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), non-NRTIs, and protease inhibitors; laboratory testing to identify active viral hepatitis; and blood chemistry testing should be performed; treatment may be initiated while awaiting results. If planning to prescribe abacavir (Ziagen), testing for HLA-B*5701 allele also should be performed and results obtained. If a patient has a CD4 count lower than 200 cells per μL (0.20 × 109 per L), he or she should receive prophylaxis for Pneumocystis pneumonia. Pregnant women with HIV infection should start ART for their own benefit, as well as to reduce the risk of transmission to the fetus.

All of the following primary regimen options have similar evidence supporting their

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Coverage of guidelines from other organizations does not imply endorsement by AFP or the AAFP.

This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Editor-in-Chief.

A collection of Practice Guidelines published in AFP is available at



Copyright © 2019 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions

CME Quiz

More in AFP

Editor's Collections

Related Content

More in Pubmed


Jan 15, 2020

Access the latest issue of American Family Physician

Read the Issue

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article