Sustiva

Generic Name: Efavirenz

  • What is Sustiva?

    Sustiva is used to treat HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection in combination with other anti-HIV medications. Sustiva is not a cure for HIV infection.
  • What is the most important information I should know about Sustiva?

    Though Sustiva can slow the progress of HIV, it is not a cure. You may continue to develop infections and other complications associated with HIV. Sustiva does not reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to others through sexual contact or blood contamination. HIV-related infections remain a danger, so frequent checkups and tests are still advisable.
  • Who should not take Sustiva?

    Do not take Sustiva if you are sensitive to any component of the drug.

    Sustiva may cause serious and/or life-threatening side effects if taken with certain other medications, including astemizole, cisapride, ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, midazolam, or triazolam.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Sustiva?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Sustiva. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have liver disease, seizures, a history of mental illness or depression, or high blood levels of cholesterol or triglycerides.
  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Adults: The recommended dose is 600 milligrams (mg) daily in combination with other HIV medications.

    Children ≥3 years: The recommended dose is based on weight. For children 22 to 32 lbs, the recommended dose is 200 mg; 33 to 43 lbs, 250 mg; 44 to 54 lbs, 300 mg; 55 to 71.5 lbs, 350 mg; 71.5 to 87 lbs, 400 mg. Children weighing more than 88 pounds receive the 600 mg adult dose.

  • How should I take Sustiva?

    You should take Sustiva on an empty stomach, preferably at bedtime. Swallow Sustiva with water.

    Taking Sustiva with food increases the amount of medicine in your body, which may increase the frequency of side effects. Taking Sustiva at bedtime may make some side effects less bothersome.

    Sustiva must be taken in combination with other anti-HIV medicines. If you take only Sustiva, the medicine may stop working. Take the exact amount of Sustiva your doctor prescribes. Never change the dose on your own. Do not stop this medicine unless your doctor tells you to stop.

  • What should I avoid while taking Sustiva?

    Avoid alcohol or use it with caution while taking Sustiva. Alcohol may increase dizziness and drowsiness while taking this medication. Sustiva may cause dizziness, problems concentrating, and/or drowsiness. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how you will react to Sustiva.

    Avoid high-risk activities such as unprotected sex and the sharing of needles. Sustiva does not cure HIV or AIDS. You can still transmit the virus to others during therapy with this medication.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Sustiva?

    If Sustiva is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Sustiva with the following: alcohol, amprenavir, astemizole, atazanavir, carbamazepine, cisapride, clarithromycin, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine, indinavir, itraconazole, ketoconazole, methadone, midazolam, nelfinavir, oral contraceptives containing ethinyl estradiol, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifabutin, rifampin, ritonavir, saquinavir, St. John's wort, triazolam, voriconazole, warfarin
  • What are the possible side effects of Sustiva?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: abnormal dreaming, abnormal thinking, agitation, amnesia, confusion, cough, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, feelings of well-being, fever, hallucinations, headache, impaired concentration, insomnia, loss of identity, nausea, skin rash, vomiting

    If you develop delusions, inappropriate behavior, severe depression, or suicidal thoughts, call your doctor immediately.

    One of the most common side effects of Sustiva is skin rash. Most rashes usually clear up on their own. In rare cases, Sustiva can cause a severe rash associated with blistering, skin peeling, and fever. Call your doctor if you develop this type of rash.

    Sustiva may cause a redistribution of body fat, leading to extra fat around the middle, a "buffalo hump" on the back, and wasting in the arms, legs, and face. It is not known if this is a long-term health problem or not.

    In a few patients, Sustiva has toxic effects on the liver and can raise cholesterol levels in some patients. Your doctor will probably check your liver function and cholesterol regularly.

  • Can I receive Sustiva if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    When taken in the first trimester, Sustiva may cause harm to a developing baby. Therefore, Sustiva should not be taken during pregnancy. Before you begin Sustiva therapy, your doctor will test to make sure that you're not pregnant. While taking the drug, you should use both a barrier type of contraceptive and a second method such as contraceptive pills.

    Avoid breastfeeding. HIV infection can be passed to a nursing infant through breast milk.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Sustiva?

    If you forget to take Sustiva, take the missed dose right away, unless it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take 2 doses at once.
  • How should I store Sustiva?

    Store at room temperature.