STD Home > Precautions and Warnings With Atazanavir
Being aware of precautions and warnings with atazanavir before starting the medication can help reduce risks and ensure a safe, effective treatment process. For example, tell your healthcare provider if you have diabetes, hemophilia, or liver disease before taking atazanavir. Precautions and warnings also extend to women who may be pregnant or breastfeeding and people with arrhythmia or kidney stones.
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz®) 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 allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking atazanavir include the following:
- The medication can cause an irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia). Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you already have an arrhythmia, as atazanavir could make it worse.
- Atazanavir can increase the level of bilirubin in your blood (this is known medically as hyperbilirubinemia). Let your healthcare provider know if you develop yellow eyes or yellow skin (jaundice), as this may be a sign of hyperbilirubinemia.
- The medication frequently causes skin rashes. Most often, these rashes are harmless, although sometimes they can be quite dangerous. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop a rash while taking atazanavir.
- The liver helps to remove atazanavir from the blood. Therefore, if you have liver disease, atazanavir may make it worse. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider if you already have liver disease or liver damage.
- Atazanavir can cause high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). This can cause problems for people with diabetes, or can even cause diabetes in individuals who are predisposed to the condition.
- There have been reports of bleeding possibly due to protease inhibitors (such as atazanavir) in people with hemophilia. Be sure your healthcare provider knows if you have hemophilia.
- There have been reports of kidney stones possibly caused by atazanavir. Make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you have had kidney stones in the past.
- Atazanavir can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and you may lose weight in other areas.
- Atazanavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, whether or not you are taking medications.
- As with all HIV medications, it is important that you take atazanavir exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
- Atazanavir can interact with a number of different medications (see Atazanavir Drug Interactions for more information).
- Atazanavir is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Reyataz and Pregnancy).
- It is not known if atazanavir passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Reyataz and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.