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Ziagen or generic Abacavir Sulfate may be prescribed as part of your human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) therapy. This is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) that will help reduce the amount of HIV-1 in your body, called the viral load. HIV-1 is the virus that accounts for 95% of the infections documented throughout the world while HIV-2 is mostly found in a number of West African countries and is more difficult to contract than HIV-1. By lowering the viral load in your body, the symptoms of this virus decrease but it is not a cure. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
As an NRTI, Ziagen will work by interfering with the activity of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. This enzyme is vital to the HIV virus as it makes it possible for the viral genetic material to be transcribed into DNA and take over the host cell so it can replicate over and over again. As this part of their lifecycle is blocked, the amount of virus in your body will decrease and the symptoms lessen so you are able to continue working, going to school and being active in the community, although you will still be able to pass the virus on to others.
HIV is a retrovirus, this means it needs a ‘host’ cell to insert their viral DNA into so the next time the cell replicates, it will contain the genetic material of the virus. As this continues, your viral load increases and symptoms are more apparent, including nausea, rapid weight loss, chronic fatigue, and diarrhea. Ziagen will be 1 of 3 or 4 other viral meds prescribed for HIV therapy. This is in case the virus develops a resistance to the effects of any of your drugs, then the others act as back-up so the viral load can be kept down.
If you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or are breast feeding, tell your doctor before taking Ziagen as this could have an impact on your unborn or nursing baby. Explain other medical conditions or allergies to your doctor and list any OTC or Rx drugs you currently take or use, including alternative or complimentary medications, to help determine if Ziagen is right as part of your HIV treatment.
Keep all doctor and lab appointments as monitoring your white blood cells is important for knowing whether Ziagen or the other HIV drugs need a dosage adjustment. Never share your medications with anyone, even if they are HIV positive, and always keep your meds out of children’s reach. There is no cure for HIV or AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) so take every precaution to stop from infecting others.
As your HIV drugs do their job to lower the amount of this virus in your body, you could experience other symptoms of an infection that is quite possibly only noticeable now as your white cell count is rising and are able to fight off other threats. See your doctor and explain any new symptoms you have noticed.