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What should I know about atazanavir before taking it?

Before taking atazanavir, you should know a few important things. One is that there are several substances that should never be taken at the same time as atazanavir, because of the potential for life-threatening reactions or because the combination will make atazanavir ineffective. They include: cisapride, indinavir, irinotecan, lovastatin, simvastatin, midazolam, pimozide, rifampin, St. John's Wort, triazolam and ergot medicines, such as ergotamine, dihydroergotamine, ergonovine and methylergonovine. There also are a large number of other substances that interact with atazanavir, and taking them with atazanavir may require adjusting the dosage of one or both drugs. You must tell your doctor about all other prescription and nonprescription drugs, herbals, vitamins and minerals that you are using. Some of the most important are certain types of birth control pills. Combining these pills with atazanavir can make it less effective, so it may be more appropriate to use another form of birth control if you are taking it. You should also know that there are many potential side effects of atazanavir. The most serious are changes in heart rhythm, weakness, mental depression, redistribution of body fat from the legs and arms to the trunk, high blood sugar, new infections, allergic reactions, severe skin disorders, kidney stones, liver damage and increased bleeding if you have hemophilia. There are several diseases that may increase your risk of side effects, so you should make sure you tell your doctor about them. These include: liver disease, kidney disease (especially if you are on dialysis), diabetes, hemophilia and heart rhythm problems, including atrioventricular (AV) block. Another thing that you need to be aware of is that atazanavir is not a cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and you still will require regular medical care. It also will not prevent you from being able to transmit the HIV to another person. You also should know that once you start taking atazanavir, you must commit to taking it on a regular basis. By missing doses, you increase the possibility of the HIV becoming resistant to it.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.