STD Home > What Is Efavirenz Used For?
Efavirenz is used for treating HIV or AIDS in adults and children as young as three months old. It is not a cure, but can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body. Healthcare providers may also recommend off-label efavirenz uses, such as for preventing HIV in people exposed to the virus (i.e., healthcare workers who come in contact with contaminated needle sticks).
Efavirenz (Sustiva®) is a prescription medication used to treat HIV and AIDS. It is part of a group of medications known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).
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, unless they happen to be tested for HIV. However, by killing or damaging cells of the body's 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.
Efavirenz is not intended to be used alone. Instead, it is used as part of an HIV "cocktail." These cocktails usually consist of three or four (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.