STD Home > What Is Atazanavir Used For?
Atazanavir is used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS. It should not be used in infants younger than three months old; talk to your child's healthcare provider about the benefits and risks of using the drug in children. Healthcare providers may also occasionally recommend off-label atazanavir uses, such as for the prevention of infection in people exposed to the virus.
Atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz®) is a prescription medication approved to treat HIV and AIDS. It is part of a class of medications known as protease inhibitors.
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) was initially reported in the United States in 1981. Since then, it has become a significant worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). At first, an HIV infection usually does not cause any obvious symptoms (see HIV Symptoms), and most people have no idea that they have been infected with the virus, unless they happen to be tested for it. However, by killing or damaging cells of the immune system, HIV will eventually begin to progressively destroy the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers (see AIDS Symptoms).
HIV is commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. Transmission also happens through contact with infected blood, which frequently occurs among IV drug users (who share needles or syringes contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus). Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
Atazanavir is almost always used as part of an HIV "cocktail." These cocktails usually consist of three or four (or sometimes five) different HIV medications (technically known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART). Using combinations of medications helps to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs. People who have taken HIV medications in the past (especially if the medications did not work well) should take ritonavir (Norvir®) in combination with atazanavir. Ritonavir increases the level of atazanavir in the blood, usually making it more effective.