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September 18th, 2009

Integrase Inhibitors: In Search of an Abbreviation

The alphabet soup that characterizes HIV therapeutics has always been one of its quirky challenges — for example, who could possibly know that 3TC, CBV, TZV, EPZ, and LAM all refer to drugs that are (or contain) lamivudine?

This drives our ID fellows nuts, and is certainly a strong deterrent to non-HIV specialists to learning the field.

(Maybe that’s why they pay us the big bucks… oh wait.)

And while we’ve grown comfortable with the abbreviations for the 3 oldest drug classes — NRTI, NNRTI, and PI — what are we to do with integrase inhibitors?  Some candidates:

  • “II” — sounds funny when you say it (“eye-eye”), and could be confused with “eleven” depending on the font
  • “INSTI” — for “integrase strand transfer inhibitor”; I’ve already seen this one around a lot, but have also seen it written “InSTI” (lower-case n), which is hard to type
  • “INI” — for “INtegrase Inhibitor”; same upper vs lower-case issue as “INSTI”, and saying “INI” always has an anatomic (especially umbilical) connotation to it

Still not sure where we’ll end up with this one, but I suspect “INSTI” will rule the day.

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

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NEJM Journal Watch HIV/Aids Clinical Care

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