Understanding How Didanosine Works and Treatment Tips
How Does Didanosine Work?Didanosine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). NRTI medications 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, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is a little different than other viruses because it must first convert its genetic material from RNA to DNA. It is the DNA genes that allow HIV to multiply.
HIV converts its genetic material by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building blocks.
Didanosine works by tricking reverse transcriptase into thinking it is one of these molecular building blocks. However, it is just different enough that when used to create DNA, didanosine actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
Didanosine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. Although it can help stop HIV from infecting uninfected cells in the body, it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
When and How Do I Take It?Some general considerations for when and how to take the medication include the following:
- Didanosine comes in the form of delayed-release capsules and as an oral solution (liquid). It is usually taken by mouth once or twice a day (depending on the particular product).
- It is very important that you take your dosage on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before or 2 hours after a meal.
- Didanosine capsules must be swallowed whole. Do not chew, crush, or open the capsules.
- Try to take it at the same time(s) every day to maintain an even level of the medication in your blood.
- For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. It is very important that you closely follow your healthcare provider's instructions for taking this drug. Missing doses can increase the chance of the virus developing a resistance to didanosine (making it less effective).