What is drug interaction and why should I pay attention?
If we look at any OTC drug packaging, we may see a section called “Drug Interactions.” This is nothing more than the reaction that can occur when taking two or more medications at the same time, and it can have important consequences.
In the case of people with HIV, the most feared scenario would be that any other drug reduces the effect of their antiretroviral treatment, since it is well known that anti-HIV drugs must be taken with a high rate of precision, otherwise, the virus may find an opportunity to replicate and proliferate in the body.
This is why the topic of drug interactions is so important. And you don’t need to read every drug package in your stash, but it is vitally important to discuss with your doctor the potential for other chemicals to interact with your antiretroviral.
A range of possibilities
As explained by the specialized HIV site Thebody.com, a drug interaction is a reaction that arises between two or more drugs, or even a food or drink may be involved.
A drug interaction could decrease or increase the action of a certain drug, thus causing unwanted side effects.
Antiretroviral drugs are a great help for people with HIV to live longer and healthier lives, but they also have the potential for drug interactions that could complicate the whole treatment.
For all these reasons, health personnel should carefully evaluate possible drug interactions before prescribing an antiretroviral treatment scheme. To give your doctor complete information, be sure to tell them about all the drugs you’re taking, both prescription and over-the-counter, dietary supplements, and herbal or natural products, as any of these things could cause a reaction.
Pay attention to these points
HIV medicines themselves can cause reactions with each other, and also with other drugs. These interactions could lower or increase the concentration of the drug in the blood, and this could make the drug in question less effective, more effective, or so strong that it can cause dangerous side effects.
Food and drink can alter the absorption of some antiretroviral, resulting in a different level of medicine in the blood than is needed. This is why many of the treatments carry precise indications of when and how to take them in relation to drinks or food.
On the other hand, some antiretroviral can alter the way other drugs work. For example, some HIV drugs can decrease the effect of hormonal birth control methods, so women using these types of methods may need to use a second method of birth control, such as a condom.
And when it comes to health conditions, problems like kidney disease, hepatitis, or conditions like pregnancy, can affect the way the body processes antiretroviral drugs. In fact, in the case of pregnancy, it may be necessary to modify the dose of antiretroviral during the various stages of pregnancy.
Check with your medical team about the drug interactions of your treatment, and inform them about everything you are taking in terms of medications, supplements and natural products. Also talk about your health conditions, for example, hypertension or diabetes.
And before taking any medication you’re not sure of its purpose, ask what it’s used for, how it’s taken, and whether you should avoid taking it with any other drugs or certain foods and drinks.
That is why it is so important to be in contact with health personnel and attend follow-up appointments. If you already have an HIV diagnosis but have not started treatment or interrupted it and want to resume it, contact AHF Latin America and the Caribbean and we can help you. We are in 11 countries in the region, locate the nearest office.