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HIV treatment and other drugs

medicines in a pharmacy

Some HIV drugs interact with commonly used over-the-counter medication, recreational drugs and even herbal supplements. Always inform your doctor of any drugs you're taking and read the labels carefully.

What are drug interactions?

Taking two or more types of drugs (medicines) together can affect the way one or more of the drugs work. This is often referred to as a drug interaction.

The risk of interactions can happen when you take any type of drugs, including combinations of prescribed drugs with other prescribed drugs, medicines you can buy over the counter, herbal and other alternative remedies, and recreational drugs. Some of these interactions can happen with anti-HIV drugs.

These interactions can mean that you don't have enough of a drug present in your blood for it to work properly. If this happens with anti-HIV drugs, you risk developing resistance.

It can also mean that you have too much of a drug – then there's more of a chance of side-effects developing.

Some interactions can be very dangerous, making one or both of the drugs toxic.

Interactions are one of the reasons why it makes very good sense for your HIV doctor and pharmacist (and any other medical professional who provides you with medicines) to know about all the medicines and drugs you are taking.

What sort of drugs interact with each other?

There are interactions between some anti-HIV drugs and everyday, over-the-counter medicines that it is important to be aware of. These can include indigestion remedies and antihistamines.

It always makes good sense to read the leaflet that comes with all medicines as this will include information about possible drug interactions. You can also ask a pharmacist about possible interactions.

Anti-HIV drugs can also have serious interactions with recreational drugs.

You can check out a drug interaction chart from hiv-druginteractions.org.

What about natural remedies?

Just like conventional medicine, herbal and other alternative remedies such as St John’s Wort or Sutherlandia can interact with anti-HIV drugs. Always check with your HIV doctor or pharmacist before taking any herbal remedies.

Recreational drugs

Some recreational drugs can interact with some anti-HIV drugs. It's also wise to consider how recreational drug use could affect adherence to your HIV treatments as sleeping patterns and routine may well be disturbed.

Next: Generic HIV treatment ››

‹‹ Back to: Changing your HIV treatment



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The Information Standard: Certified member

This article was last reviewed on 14/6/2017 by Anna Peters

Date due for the next review: 14/6/2020

Content Author: S. Corkery (NAM)

Current Owner: Kerri Virani

More information:

Vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, Amelia Jones, NAM Aidsmap, June 2016

Interactions between HIV treatment and recreational drugs, Roger Pebody, NAM Aidsmap, November 2015

HIV treatment booster drugs are most likely to have dangerous interactions with methamphetamine, methadrone, MDMA and ketamine, Roger Pebody, NAM Aidsmap, August 2015