Reduced pill burden and Side effects
The New Zealand AIDS Foundation welcomes the decision to fund access to the anti-HIV treatment, Reyataz(atazanavir
sulphate), produced by BMS Virology(Bristol-Myers Squibb Company).
This is a protease inhibitor and used in conjunction with other anti –HIV medication as part of HAART (Highly Active
Antiretroviral Therapy). It works, as do other PI`s by stopping HIV from producing more viruses (replication).
NZAF National Positive Health Manager Eamonn Smythe says it is “good news for positive people as this is the first PI
avaialable here in New Zealand that is once daily.” Making it both easier to remember and reducing the pill burden that
is so commonly associated with HIV medications.Current PI regimes range from 6 to a staggering 18 tablets/capsules per
day and if you are on a HAART regime this is only part of the story.
In addition to a reduced pill burden a review by the antiretroviral subcommittee in new Zealand last year noted that
Reyataz had fewer metabolic side effects than other Protease Inhibitors, and its use in other countries bears this up,
with many positive people having reduced gastro intestinal problems, such as nausea and diarrhea.
Side effects, says Eamonn Smythe, are one of the main issues in relation to the taking of antiretroviral medication.
‘”There is no doubt that anti-retroviral medication saves lives, however, the very same tablets can also cause the
quality of that life to be diminished."
Reyataz can increase levels of bilirubin, a pigment found in the liver. Increased bilirubin can cause the skin, nails,
and the whites of the eyes to appear yellowish-brown. However, in people who have taken Reyataz in clinical trials, an
increase in bilirubin has not been associated with any other signs of liver damage.
Protease Inhibitors as a group may induce nausea, tiredness, diarrhoea, rash, increased lipid levels (fat in the blood)
–increasing cardiac risk, increased blood sugar levels (diabetes’s) and loss (or gain) of body fat. ` NZAF welcomes the
full funding of any medication that reduces these side effects, and which will enable positive people to have more
control of their lives.