How does darunavir work?
Darunavir is a class of medicines known as protease inhibitors. Your doctor will prescribe darunavir as part of your HIV treatment along with a booster medicine and antiretroviral drugs of another class of drugs. It is important to take all the prescribed medications every day. Each class of drugs works against HIV in a different way.
The goal of HIV treatment is to reduce the level of HIV in your body (viral load). Ideally, your viral load should be so low that it is undetectable - usually less than 50 copies of viruses per ml of blood. Taking HIV treatment and having an undetectable viral load protects the immune system and prevents HIV from being transmitted to another person during sex.
How Can I Take Darunavir?
You should take darunavir with a meal or a snack to help your body absorb the drug.
Treatment for HIV works best if you take it every day. When would be a good time for you to plan the treatment? Think about your daily routine and when you find it easier to do the treatment.
If you forget to take a dose of darunavir, take it as soon as you remember the food. If it is less than 12 hours before the next dose, do not take a double dose, just skip the missed dose and continue.
If you regularly forget to take the treatment or if you are not taking it for another reason, it is important to talk to your doctor about it.
All drugs have possible side effects. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor about possible side effects before you start taking a medicine. If you feel something that could be a side effect, talk to your doctor about what can be done. A full list of side effects, including less common side effects, should be included in the package leaflet accompanying the package with darunavir.
In general, we divide the side effects into two types:
Common - a side effect that occurs in at least one in 100 people (over 1%) who take this medicine.
Rare - a side effect that occurs in less than one in 100 people (less than 1%) who take this medicine.
Common side effects of darunavir include (most common bold):
- Abdominal pain,
- Peripheral neuropathy (injury to the nerves of the hands or feet, causing tingling or pain),
- Difficulty sleeping, weakness.
- Increased lipids,
- Elevation of hepatic enzymes.
You should always tell your doctor and pharmacist about any other medicines or medicines you are taking. This includes anything prescribed by another doctor, medications you have purchased from a street chemist, herbal and alternative treatments, and recreational or chems drugs.
Some medicines or medications are unsafe if taken together - the interaction may cause increased and dangerous levels, or may prevent one or both medicines from working. Other drug interactions are less dangerous but still need to be taken seriously. If drug levels are affected, you may need to change the dose you take. This should be done only on the advice of your HIV doctor.
A list of medicines known to interact with darunavir should be included in the package leaflet accompanying the package with darunavir. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medicines and other medicines that are not on the list.
You should not take darunavir with any of the following medicines:
- colchicine (if you also have kidney or liver problems)
- hydroergotaminaelbasvir / grazoprevir
- lopinavir / ritonavir
- midazolam (oral)
- sildenafil (when used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension)
- St. John's wort,
- systemic lidocaine
If you are taking darunavir, it is especially important to consult your doctor or pharmacist for HIV before taking other medicines because they may interact with darunavir or ritonavir or cobicistate.
Some common medications may be affected, including antibiotics, corticosteroids, hormonal contraceptives, metformin, methadone and statins. (I take both with medical advice)
If you are thinking about having a baby, or think you may be pregnant, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about which combination of anti-HIV drugs would be right for you. It is important to take antiretroviral treatment during pregnancy to avoid HIV transmission from the mother to the baby.
Darunavir boosted with ritonavir may be considered an option during pregnancy, but it is important to talk to your doctor. For example, it may be necessary to adjust the dose.
The British HIV Association (BHIVA) recommends darunavir boosted with ritonavir (in combination with other medicines) as a medicine that can be given to women starting HIV treatment in pregnancy, depending on individual circumstances.
Darunavir potentiated with cobicistate is not recommended during pregnancy.
Darunavir is approved for use in children. Prezista oral solution or reduced-dose tablets are
Talking to Your Doctor
If you have any concerns about your treatment or other aspects of your health, it is important to talk to your doctor about them.
For example, if you have a symptom or side effect, or if you have trouble getting the treatment every day, it is important that your doctor knows that. If you are taking any other medications or recreational drugs, or if you have another medical condition, this is also important for your doctor to know.
Building a relationship with a doctor can take time. You may feel very comfortable talking to your doctor, but some people find this harder, especially when it comes to sex, mental health or symptoms that they find embarrassing. It's also easy to forget the things you wanted to talk about.
Preparing for an appointment can be very helpful. Take some time to think about what you are going to say. You may find it helpful to talk to someone first or make some notes and take them to your appointment. Our online tool The conversation points can help you prepare for your next appointment - visit www.aidsmap.com/talking-points
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