Fact sheets with details on three fixed-dose combination antiretroviral medications were recently released in an AIDSinfo April 19 news release. Updated fact sheets on general HIV treatment guidelines and an infographic were also released.
The three new combination drugs are: Cimduo (lamivudine / tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), Symfi (efavirenz / lamivudine / tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), and Symfi Lo (efavirenz / lamivudine / tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.) Two of the drugs, Symfi and Symfi Lo, function as complete drug regimens when choosing a treatment plan. Cimduo, however, is used in combination with other HIV medicines.
Children weighing at least 88 pounds can be approved for Symfi and children weighing at least 77 pounds can be approved for Symfi Lo and Cimduo. HIV drugs tend to have more salient side effects risks to make yourself aware of than conventional drugs. Each combination drug can be clicked on for a full list of side effects, which is often includes hepatotoxicity(liver problems), the risk of developing fat in the liver, and kidney problems in certain individuals.
The fact sheet also includes information about drug interactions and complications that can occur in those co-infected with hepatitis B.
Two of the new drugs contain efavirenz, Symfi and Symfi Lo, which is significant because of its unusual side effects. “Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of mental health problems,” the Symfi fact sheet reads, such as “Hearing or seeing things that are not real.”
There are — and I can tell you from personal experience — real and probable side effects when taking efavirenz. Individuals commonly experience something in between lucid dreaming and full-blown hallucinations about every three days. A peer-reviewed study breaks down all of efavirenz’ unusual effects. Although the side effects are not the same frequency and intensity for everyone, they should seriously be considered for those prone to nightmares or depression and anxiety. For those prone to mental problems, doctors often recommend efavirenz-free treatment routes.
Some of the ingredients in Symfi and Symfi Lo react with hormone-based birth control, however there are ways to take certain forms of birth control during HIV treatment. Many of these details are covered in the fact sheet details.
The fact sheets for HIV and Children and Adolescents, HIV and Women, HIV and Gay and Bisexual Men, HIV and Older Adults, and HIV and Drug and Alcohol Users were also updated. Each fact sheet contains a summary outlining key points to help navigate living with HIV. It’s important that people living with HIV understand how drugs and alcohol affect your overall prognosis and lifespan. The fact sheets are also provided in Spanish.
Interestingly, the news release includes a link to an infographic, that depicts the entire history of notable antiretroviral drugs for HIV, going all the way back to 1987, when the most crude forms of antiretrovirals emerged. It was in the year 1995 when protease inhibitors were first introduced, and medical science took a leap forward in controlling HIV with much better outcomes, often in combination with other drugs.
As you can see from the infographic, new combination drugs have been released each consecutive year, since at least 2011, and you can expect that more will be released often in the future.
With each new combination drug, we’re seeing less severe side effects, with each improvement. In 2018, there are so many drug regimen choices out there. Yes, the risks of developing resistance continue, but there’s no better time and HIV treatment plan. Three new combination drugs means three new and improved options for those living with HIV.