Understanding How Atazanavir Works and What to Tell Your Doctor
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking atazanavir if you have:
- An irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia)
- Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
- A history of kidney stones
- Any allergies, including to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Reyataz and Pregnancy)
- Breastfeeding (see Reyataz and Breastfeeding).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Atazanavir to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
Atazanavir is part of a group of HIV medications known as protease inhibitors. These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. Like other viruses, it must use a person's own cells to reproduce. Once inside an infected cell, HIV uses the cell to make DNA, which enables it to make new viruses that can spread to other cells. The DNA is made in long strands that must be clipped into shorter, usable strands using enzymes called proteases.
As a protease inhibitor, atazanavir stops protease enzymes from clipping DNA into short strands. Since the long, unclipped DNA strands cannot be used to make new viruses, this helps stop the spread of HIV to uninfected cells.
Keep in mind this medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. It can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.