What is atazanavir?
Atazanavir is an antiviral medicine that prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.
Atazanavir is used with other medications to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Atazanavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS.
Atazanavir is for use in adults and children who are at least 3 months old and weigh at least 11 pounds (5 kilograms).
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using. Many drugs can interact with atazanavir, and some drugs should not be used together.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use atazanavir if you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to atazanavir.
Some medicines can cause unwanted or dangerous effects when used with atazanavir. Your doctor may need to change your treatment plan if you use:
- sildenafil (Revatio, for treating pulmonary arterial hypertension);
- St. John’s wort;
- antipsychotic medicine–lurasidone, pimozide;
- antiviral medicine–elbasvir/grazoprevir, indinavir, nevirapine;
- ergot medicines–dihydroergotamine, ergotamine, ergonovine, methylergonovine;
- medicine to lower cholesterol–lovastatin, simvastatin; or
- sedative medicines–triazolam, oral midazolam.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- liver disease (especially hepatitis B or C);
- kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis);
- kidney stones or gallstones;
- a bleeding disorder such as hemophilia; or
- heart problems.
HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy and for a short time after childbirth.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a registry to track the effects of atazanavir on the baby.
Atazanavir can make hormonal birth control less effective (birth control pills, injections, implants, skin patches, vaginal rings). Use a condom or diaphragm with spermicide to prevent pregnancy.
Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.
Atazanavir should not be given to a child younger than 3 months old and weighing less than 11 pounds (5 kilograms).
How should I take atazanavir?
Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Use the medicine exactly as directed. Atazanavir is often used together with another medicine called ritonavir (Norvir).
Atazanavir should be taken once daily with food. Swallow the capsule whole.
Drink extra fluids to keep your kidneys working properly while using this medicine.
Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.
Tell your doctor if the child has any changes in weight. Atazanavir doses are based on weight in children, and any changes may affect your child’s dose.
You will need frequent medical tests.
Your dose needs may change if you switch to a different brand, strength, or form of this medicine. Avoid medication errors by using only the form and strength your doctor prescribes.
HIV is often treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without your doctor’s advice. Every person with HIV should remain under the care of a doctor.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if your next dose is due in less than 6 hours. Do not use two doses at one time.
Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
What should I avoid while taking atazanavir?
Taking atazanavir will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.
Atazanavir side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).
Call your doctor at once if you have:
- sudden dizziness (like you might pass out);
- severe pain in your side or lower back, painful urination, blood in your urine;
- high blood sugar–increased thirst, increased urination, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, headache, blurred vision; or
- liver or gallbladder problems–nausea, vomiting, upper stomach pain, itching, fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Atazanavir affects your immune system, which may cause certain side effects (even weeks or months after you’ve taken atazanavir). Tell your doctor if you have:
- signs of a new infection–fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores, cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss;
- trouble speaking or swallowing, problems with balance or eye movement;
- weakness or prickly feeling, loss of bladder or bowel control; or
- swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence.
- Common side effects may include:
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea;
- headache, muscle pain;
- depressed mood, sleep problems (insomnia);
- numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands or feet; or
- changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist).