Reyataz®, also called atazanavir, is an antiviral protease inhibitor that is used for the treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This medication, which comes in the form of capsules, neither cures nor prevents the spread of HIV. Rather, it is used to help control infections associated with the virus, and it aids in preventing the multiplication of HIV cells.
HIV is a virus that can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in which the immune system has trouble protecting the body from infections and diseases. Two types of HIV exist, and both types destroy blood cells that are needed for an effective immune system. In the past, HIV could quickly cause AIDS within a few years. Although there still is no cure for the virus, HIV infection can be slowed down with the use of medications such as Reyataz®.
A person who takes Reyataz® should follow instructions given to him or her by a doctor. In general, the medication is taken orally, whole and with food. The prescribed dosage should be followed. Doses should not be skipped, and if a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible unless it is almost time to take the next one. More than the prescribed amount should not be taken at any given time; in the case of an overdose, medical attention should be sought immediately.
As with any other prescription drug, Reyataz® comes with its own set of precautions and side effects. A person with HIV or AIDS often has to take a combination of medications for his or her illness, so additional prescriptions should be disclosed to the doctor so that drug interactions can be avoided. Allergies also should be divulged in case of allergic reactions. Side effects might include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. Severe symptoms such as painful urination, fever or infection are signs that it is time to seek a doctor.
Women who take Reyataz® should be informed that if it is used in conjunction with birth control pills or patches, the medication can become less effective for HIV treatment. Pregnant women should take the medication only if, overall, the prescription is more beneficial than the alternative. Although it is unknown whether atazanavir is passed through breast milk, women who have HIV are advised not to breastfeed, because the act potentially could spread the virus to the baby.