June #113 : Why..... - by David Gelman, MD

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Fighting Femmes

The amfAR's new clothes

Warm Reception

White Smoke In Our Eyes

Hepatitis on the Block

High On Adherence

A Positive Campaign

Founder's Letter

Earthwatch: Generic Meds

On The March!



POZ Picks Gay Pride

Medi - Mess

How to Treat "Untreatable" HIV

Read It Or Weep

Live and Let Die?

Did Common Just Come Out?

Legal Eye

Quick Study


Book nook


When Push Comes To Drag

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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June 2005


by David Gelman, MD

...Do some pesky side effects vanish, while others hang on?

It depends on how the med causes the effect.

WHAT CAUSES IT? Researchers know why some HIV meds produce certain side effects. Viracept brings diarrhea because it causes gut cells to secrete chloride. In about one in 10 HIVers, Reyataz causes jaundice (yellowing eyes and skin) because it interferes with liver enzymes that clear the blood-waste product bilirubin from your system. (But it doesn’t seem to damage your liver.)
IS IT TEMPORARY? Many of these side effects result when meds temporarily alter a body enzyme or tissue. When you first take any powerful drug, you may become nauseated or get the runs. But your body is able to adjust, rebalancing your system so that the effects clear up. Even when science can’t pinpoint side-effect roots—like Sustiva’s tendency to bring on sleep disturbances—the symptoms usually fade after about a month. So it’s worth hanging in there.

DOES IT LAST? Then there are the more troubling  long-term effects: neuropathy, facial wasting and fat accumulation top many HIVers’ lists. These develop and persist because the meds damage your cells. Unlike drugs that temporarily affect an enzyme, these seem to mess with your DNA, altering cell blueprints. All side effects, it turns out, are not created equal. 

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