Viread is an antiviral drug known as a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NtRTI) that is prescribed to treat the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and to treat chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV). Many HIV treatments involve nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI), but Viread is slightly different in that it skips the need to undergo a chemical change once it is in your body to make it active.
HIV is usually treated with 3 or 4 medications that could include Viread or generic Tenofovir. This is to provide a ‘backup’ if the virus becomes resistant to any of the drugs so there are still working antiviral meds in your body. Viread has also been approved to treat chronic hepatitis B infections in those 12 years and up. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
When taken as directed, Viread blocks the action of the reverse transcriptase enzyme that is essential to the virus to be able to convert its own genetic material into DNA. By interfering with this step, the virus cannot grow and create new viruses. Viread is not a cure for HIV, but it can reduce the amount of virus in your body (viral load), which gives your white blood cells (T-cells) a chance to increase and help you to fight off other opportunistic infections that can occur when your immune system is compromised by HIV.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HIV are similar in that the virus can be transmitted through intercourse, sharing drug-injection apparatus, or during child birth from mother to baby. It may be surprising for you to know that HBV is 50-100 times more infectious than HIV. The majority of those that become infected with hepatitis B have a healthy and strong immune system and are able to overcome it and, in fact, may not even have been aware they had it. A small percentage of people become infected and the virus takes a strong foot-hold if you have a weak immune system. After six months of dealing with the virus, you are considered chronic.
Ask your doctor about any risks of taking Viread while you are pregnant, may become pregnant during treatment, or are breast feeding. Discuss other medical conditions or allergies with your doctor and list any OTC or Rx drugs you currently take or use, including herbal remedies and dietary or vitamin supplements so it can be determined if Viread is safe for you.
Due to Viread helping to boost your immune system, you may begin to notice symptoms of illness not caused by HIV or hepatitis B. This may be an infection that you are only aware of now because your immune system is able to fight back because of a lower viral load. See your doctor and explain the symptoms. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any current meds as this could increase your risk of serious side effects.