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ARV drugs act by blocking the action of enzymes that are important for replication and functioning of HIV. The drugs must be used in standardized combinations (usually three drugs together). Monotherapy is not recommended because of the inevitable development of drug resistance. However, for the specific indication of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV infection, short course monotherapy is still recommended. Dual nucleoside therapy is also not recommended because it does not reduce HIV-related mortality at a population level.

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