Darunavir is a medication that prevents replication of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the body. It is among a class of drugs known as protease inhibitors, a reference to their mode of action. A doctor usually prescribes this medication as part of combination therapy for a patient with HIV infection to prevent the infection from progressing to full-blown acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). The drug will not cure the infection or prevent the patient from passing the virus on to other people.
This drug is in the second generation of protease inhibitors. These drugs are more effective than their precursors and tend to come with fewer side effects. Many patients tolerate darunavir therapy very well. Common side effects include gastrointestinal upset, rash, changes in distribution of body fat, and headaches. Depending on the drug cocktail a patient uses to manage HIV infection, other side effects may occur as well.
As long as the drug is able to suppress viral replication, the patient's condition should not progress. Symptoms like anemia, fatigue, and frequent illness can be signs that the virus is replicating successfully, despite the drug. As the virus takes over, it will suppress immune function, making the patient more susceptible to infection and complications. Patients on darunavir need to visit a doctor regularly for evaluation, including blood tests to check on T-cell counts, to see how well they are responding to the medication.
This drug can interact negatively with other drugs, and some medications may make it less effective. Before starting darunavir, it is important to go over all current medications, including herbal preparations and over-the-counter drugs. A doctor can check for harmful drug interactions and adjust the patient's drug regimen as needed. Patients on this drug may also find it helpful to carry around an informational card discussing current medications and their dosages, so doctors can take this information into account when providing treatment.
People taking darunavir are still infectious and need to take precautions to protect other people. Health care providers should be made aware of HIV infection so they can exercise precautions, especially when the patient is bleeding. This is especially important for emergency services personnel like firefighters, police officers, and paramedics. Sexually active people can take precautions to protect partners like using barrier methods during sexual activity. If an exposure does occur, prophylactic drug regimens are available to reduce the risks of developing HIV infection.