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Precautions and Warnings With Nevirapine

Before taking nevirapine, make sure to let your healthcare provider know if you have liver disease or any allergies. It is also important to know that the medication could cause life-threatening skin rashes, severe liver damage, and changes in body fat distribution. Being aware of the precautions and warnings with nevirapine prior to starting HIV treatment can help minimize risks and ensure safe treatment.

Nevirapine: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking nevirapine (Viramune®) if you have:
 
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
     
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 

Specific Warnings and Precautions for Nevirapine

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking nevirapine include the following:
 
  • Nevirapine sometimes causes life-threatening skin rashes (which can result in severe infections or loss of large amounts of skin). Let your healthcare know right away if you develop a skin rash, especially if you also have any of the following symptoms:

 

    • A general ill feeling (malaise)
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle aches or joint pain
    • Skin blisters
    • Mouth sores
    • Eye redness
    • Swelling of the face
    • Liver problems.

 

  • Nevirapine can cause severe liver damage. This is most likely if you have high CD4 counts (high levels of certain immune cells). You should not start taking nevirapine if your CD4 count is higher than 250 cells/mm3 (for women) or 400 cells/mm3 (for men). Let your healthcare provider know right away if you have any signs of liver damage, such as:

 

    • Fatigue or a general ill feeling (malaise)
    • Loss of appetite
    • Nausea
    • Yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
    • Tenderness near the liver (the upper right abdomen)
    • Pale stools.

 

  • Your healthcare provider should monitor you very closely for the first 18 weeks that you take Nevirapine, as the risk of liver damage is highest during this time.
     
  • Nevirapine can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and may lose weight in other areas.
     
  • Nevirapine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, regardless of whether you are taking medications.
     
  • As will all HIV medications, it is important that you take nevirapine exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
     
  • Nevirapine can interact with a number of different medications (see Drug Interactions With Nevirapine for more information).
     
  • Nevirapine is considered a pregnancy Category B medication. This means that it is probably safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Viramune and Pregnancy).
     
  • Nevirapine passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Viramune and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.
     

Nevirapine for HIV/AIDS

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