Efavirenz

Where is Efavirenz used?

Efavirenz is used for the treatment of HIV infection. This medication helps:

  • Lessen the amount of HIV in your body
  • Your immune system function well
  • Lower your chance of getting HIV complications and improves your quality of life

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this medication. Efavirenz comes as a tablet for oral use.

How does Efavirenz work?

HIV invades cells of the immune system. Particularly, it is the white blood cells known as CD4 T-helper lymphocytes. These cells typically work to stimulate other cells in the immune system to fight infection. As HIV kills CD4 T-helper cells, over time the body becomes less able to fight the virus. After the virus is inside the CD4 T-cell, it grows. Part of the progression of viral multiplication includes the conversion of the virus genetic material, RNA, into DNA. This is attained by a multiple important to the virus called reverse transcriptase. It is a compound known as an enzyme. 

Efavirenz is a type of medicine called a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor that works by blocking the action of this enzyme. This medicine blocks the enzyme in a slightly different way. Blocking the action of the enzyme interferes with the conversion of viral RNA into DNA, which stops the virus from multiplying.

How is Efavirenz taken?

This medication is usually taken once a day at bedtime as directed by your doctor. Each dose is taken by mouth on an empty stomach. Taking this drug with food increases the blood level of this medication and may increase your risk of certain side effects. 

The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the treatment. The continuous taking of this medication exactly as it is prescribed by your doctor is very important. Do not increase your dose, take this drug more often than prescribed, or stop taking it even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Changing or skipping your dosage without approval from your doctor might cause the quantity of the virus to increase. It may as well make the infection harder to treat or let side effects get worse. 

What are the possible side effects of Efavirenz?

  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Tired feeling

Tell your doctor right away if you have these side effects:

  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Severe tiredness
  • Dark urine

What are the precautions in using Efavirenz?

  • It is recommended that you avoid drinking grapefruit juice while taking Efavirenz. It may increase your exposure to Efavirenz and increase the risk of its side effects.
  • Individuals taking antiretroviral medications might gain weight and experience increases in the levels of fats and sugar in their blood. However, these changes are in part linked to the improvement in control over your HIV and your lifestyle.
  • Use Efavirenz with caution in people over 65 years of age, people with liver disease, with a history of psychiatric illness or fits. 
  • This medication should not be used in people with decreased kidney function and decreased liver function. 
  • Let your doctor know if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or planning to become pregnant.