Ritonavir is used for boosting other HIV medications to increase their effectiveness. Since ritonavir can increase the level of HIV medications in the blood, it is often used as part of an HIV "cocktail" for the treatment of HIV and AIDS in adults and young children. Healthcare providers may occasionally recommend off-label ritonavir uses, such as preventing infection in people exposed to the virus.
What Is Ritonavir Used For? -- An Overview
Ritonavir (Norvir®) is a prescription medication approved to treat HIV and AIDS. It is part of a group of medications known as protease inhibitors. Currently, it is used to "boost" other HIV medications, increasing their levels in the blood and making them more effective.
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.
Ritonavir 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.
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