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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking efavirenz (Sustiva)?
You should not use this medication if you are allergic to efavirenz, if you have moderate to severe liver problems, or if you are using any of the following drugs:
To make sure you can safely take efavirenz, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use efavirenz if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use two forms of birth control, including a barrier form (such as a condom or diaphragm with spermicide gel) while you are taking efavirenz, and for at least 12 weeks after your treatment ends. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
HIV can be passed to the baby if the mother is not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection while you are pregnant.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of efavirenz on the baby.
Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.
How should I take efavirenz (Sustiva)?
Take exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Take efavirenz on an empty stomach at bedtime, unless your doctor tells you otherwise.
Efavirenz can cause side effects such as mood or behavior changes. These symptoms may improve the longer you take the medication. Taking efavirenz at bedtime may also lessen these effects. Contact your doctor if you have more serious symptoms such as severe depression or thoughts of hurting yourself.
Take efavirenz regularly to get the most benefit. Get your prescriptions refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
Do not take efavirenz as your only HIV medication. HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of different drugs. Your disease may become resistant to efavirenz if you do not take it in combination with other HIV medicines your doctor has prescribed. Use all of your medications as directed by your doctor. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without advice from your doctor. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
To be sure efavirenz is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood and liver function may need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.
This medication can cause you to have a false positive drug-screening test. If you provide a urine sample for drug-screening, tell the laboratory staff that you are taking efavirenz.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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Resources for Staying Well
- HIV-AIDS: Myths and Facts
- Understanding The Symptoms of AIDS/HIV
- The Top 10 Myths and Misconceptions About HIV and AIDS