STD Home > Understanding How Ritonavir Works and What to Tell Your Doctor
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?
You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking ritonavir if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Ritonavir is part of a group of HIV
medications known as protease inhibitors. These medicines 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, it must use a person's own cells to reproduce. Once inside an infected cell, the HIV virus uses the cell to make DNA, which enables it to make new HIV viruses that can spread to other cells. The DNA is made in long strands that must be clipped into shorter, usable strands using enzymes called proteases.
Ritonavir is a protease inhibitor, which means that it stops protease enzymes from clipping DNA into short strands. Since the long, unclipped DNA strands cannot be used to make new viruses, this helps stop the spread of HIV to other uninfected cells. Ritonavir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, however. It can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
Ritonavir increases the level of several other HIV medications in the blood. In fact, ritonavir is most often used for this purpose, not for its antiviral activities. This is known as "boosting." Ritonavir is usually used to boost other HIV medications, increasing the level of these medications in the blood and making them more effective.