Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a very dangerous viral infection. Fortunately, there is an effective remedy called tenofovir that helps to treat HIV-1 and significantly helps patients to overcome the negative consequences of the disease. But if you are going to start treatment, you should know which side effects to expect. The following article will clarify this issue.
Hepatitis B is considered the world’s most serious liver infection. It has been found to be somewhere between 50 and 100 times more infectious than the human immunodeficiency virus (AIDS). It is also the main cause of liver cancer, which is the second foremost cause of cancer deaths worldwide.
According to the United Nations, as of 2017, close to 36.9 million people all over the world were HIV/AIDS-positive. This same report also indicated that about 940,000 people died from complications related to AIDS that same year. The numbers have actually dropped over the years due to the development of anti-retroviral drugs.
TDF (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) belongs to the class of drugs referred to as NRTIs (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors). 300 mg of this drug (equivalent to 245 mg of tenofovir disoproxil) combined with 300 mg of emtricitabine serves as an active ingredient for the drug, Truvada, used in PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Its presence as an active ingredient in microbicides has lowered the risk of HIV infection in women who used it by 39% as shown through a study .
TDF is marketed with the name Viread (brand name) by Gilead Sciences Inc. When used alongside other antiretroviral medicines, it becomes effective for the treatment of HIV. However, for the treatment of hepatitis, it is effective as a single agent. Tenofovir reduces the viral load in the body of a patient by obstructing reverse transcriptase.
During the initial development of tenofovir, there were concerns that it may cause kidney toxicity. However, all through the testing and development of the medication, not a single case of kidney toxicity was reported. Nevertheless, over time, users of tenofovir have complained of experiencing some adverse effects such as dizziness, stomach pain, diarrhea, weakness, headache, rash or itching and trouble falling or staying asleep.
The most common reactions that may be experienced with the use of tenofovir rarely require medical attention as they vanish within just a few days. The discomforts usually disappear while taking the medication as the body gets used to it. However, if they persist, an immediate report should be made to a healthcare center for adequate medical attention. Also, health care providers should be able to tell you how to avoid or reduce these side effects. Therefore, talk to your doctor for professional advice before taking tenofovir.
Also, major liver complications and a condition called lactic acidosis can develop rarely in patients who use tenofovir. If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to consult your doctor quickly.
While negative side effects such as nausea, abdominal pain and vomiting, among a few others, are common with the short-term use of tenofovir, there’s a scientific suggestion that continuous use (i.e. long-term use) may result in long-term negative side effects. However, these side effects are subject to confirmation through randomized clinical trials.
A few of these long-term side effects are listed below.
There is a risk of long term tenofovir users developing abnormal levels of creatinine in their blood. Creatinine is a waste product formed by the normal breakdown of muscle cells. The excess level of it in the blood, therefore, is an indication of possible kidney malfunction.
With the continued intake of tenofovir, there is a risk of kidney failure. This is because the drug is filtered by the kidneys. Kidney failure, which is sometimes referred to as ESRD (end-stage renal disease), refers to the point where the kidney stops working and cannot function without dialysis or a kidney transplant. It is the last phase of persistent kidney disease. No one should ever let their condition get to this state before seeking medical attention.
Also known as Hepatomegaly, this is a condition in which the liver increases beyond its regular size. Usually, other symptoms such as fatigue, jaundice and filling up early after a meal accompany liver enlargement.
A potential complication or worsening of the hepatitis B condition is one long-term adverse effect of tenofovir. It is on this account that patients suffering from hepatitis and taking tenofovir as medication are advised to make regular visits to a healthcare provider or medical professional for consultation and checkup.
It is important to note that tenofovir does not work well with other medications that contain tenofovir. This combination may lead to the surfacing of other negative aftereffects. Some examples of such drugs that already contain tenofovir are:
There are also certain classes of drugs that do not go well with tenofovir with long-term use. Some of them include :
Once started, tenofovir should not be stopped except if otherwise stated by the doctor. Discontinuation of the medication without a doctor’s recommendation may result in acute exacerbation of hepatitis.
Also, tenofovir does not reduce the risk of transferring HIV to others as it is just a component of the actual drug that does. Hence, even while taking tenofovir, the need to continually practice safe sex, and observe other precautionary measures such as avoiding the sharing of sharp objects is of chief importance.
While users can expect very mild side effects such as headaches, dizziness or stomach upset, and wait a day or two to see if they go away, a doctor should be notified if they do not go away after a while.
To be on the safe side, irrespective of the type of negative side effect that may be experienced, the best and surest step to take is to notify a healthcare provider or doctor immediately. They are professionals and would know how to calm the situation, what tests to do and the next course of action. Also, users should strive to avoid missing doses. Mnemonic devices can be used to help remember dosing time. This can be achieved by associating dosing time with a word, an image or a phrase. More information on tenofovir, other antiretroviral agents, as well as HIV/AIDS can be found on HIVPrEP.
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