STD Home > What Is Nevirapine Used For?
Nevirapine is used for treating HIV and AIDS in adults and children as young as 15 days old. The medication can help stop HIV from spreading to uninfected cells in the body.
Nevirapine (Viramune®) is a prescription medication approved to be used in combination with other medications 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 since 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 HIV (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. HIV 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.
Nevirapine 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 (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.
Nevirapine can damage the liver, and studies suggest this is more likely in people with high CD4 cell counts (high levels of certain immune cells). Nevirapine should not be started in women with CD4 cell counts higher than 250 cells/mm3 or in men with CD4 cell counts higher than 400 cells/mm3.