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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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Side Effects of HIV and AIDS Drugs

HIV medications help many people lead longer, healthier lives. However, AIDS and HIV drug side effects are also common. These side effects range from mild to life threatening. Here is an overview of some of the common and more severe HIV drug side effects.

Common Side Effects of HIV Drugs

The following chart lists some HIV medication side effects that are more common and a few special precautions. To prevent interactions, it is important to tell your doctor about all drugs you take. Also tell your doctor right away if you have new, unusual, or long-lasting symptoms.

Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NRTIs) Common Side Effects Special Precautions
Ziagen (abacavir) Hypersensitivity reaction Have genetic testing done prior to therapy.
Combivir (lamivudine + zidovudine) Anemia
Videx, or Videx-EC (didanosine or ddl) Diarrhea, abdominal pain, neuropathy, nausea, vomiting, pancreatitis Do not combine with stavudine.
Emtriva (emtricitabine) Rash and skin darkening of palms or soles, numbness, tingling, or burning sensation
Epzicom (abacavir + lamivudine) Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, fatigue, chills, dizziness, headaches, insomnia Bactrim or Septra may increase blood levels; do not take with stavudine.
Epivir (lamivudine) Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, insomnia
Zerit, Zerit XR (stavudine, d4T) Peripheral neuropathy, headache, chills & fever, diarrhea, nausea, fat loss in arms, legs, or face Do not combine with AZT or didanosine.
Viread (tenofovir) Mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, upset stomach Do not use if you have kidney disease
Trizivir (abacavir + zidovudine + lamivudine) Anemia, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, dizziness, insomnia, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, hypersensitivity reaction Tell your doctor about all medications you're taking.
Truvada (tenofovir + emtricitabine) Mild nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, rash, darkening of palms or soles, tingling, numbness, or burning sensation Do not take with didanosine or lamivudine or if you have kidney disease.
Stribild (tenofovir + emtricitabine + elvitegravir) Nausea, diarrhea Can cause lactic acid buildup and severe liver problems.

Retrovir (AZT, zidovudine)

Anemia, nausea, vomiting Do not combine with stavudine.

Triumeq (abacavir + lamivudine + dolutegravir)

Insomnia, headache, fatigue Do not combine with stavudine.

Non-Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (NNRTIs) Common Side Effects Special Precautions
Edurant (rilpivirine) Depression, difficulty sleeping, headache, rash
Sustiva (efavirenz) Vivid dreams, anxiety, rash, nausea, insomnia
Viramune (nevirapine) Skin rash, fever, headache, nausea, diarrhea

Liver problems.

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