What is this medication for?

Darunavir is an antiretroviral medication used to treat the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. For it to be effective, Darunavir must be taken together with a boosting agent, Ritonavir and in combination with other antiretroviral medications. This combination therapy works by preventing the virus from replicating (reproducing), and hence, reducing the amount of viruses (viral load) in your body. As a result, the CD4 cell count in your body will increase. CD4 cells are a type of immune cells that help your body fight off infections. However, Darunavir/Ritonavir is not a cure for HIV infection. It must be taken consistently every day to slow the progression of the disease.

How should I take/use this medication?

  • Do not stop taking your medication without checking with your healthcare professional. The medication may make you feel better over time but do not stop taking even if you feel better. Stopping medication may result in worsening infection and/ or acquisition of other infections.
  • It is important to take the antiretroviral combination therapy exactly as prescribed every day to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to the medication.
  • Take this medication with food to minimise side effects and increase absorption. Darunavir/ Ritonavir will not be able to work well without food. It can be a meal or a snack.

What should I do if I forget to take/use this medication?

If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Then take your next dose at the usual time. Do not take two doses to make up for the missed dose.

What precautions should I take?

Inform your healthcare professional if:

  • You are allergic to this medication, sulphonamide (antibiotic) or any of the other ingredients of this medication
  • You have severe liver problems (eg. Hepatitis B or C). Some additional tests might be needed
  • You are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding
  • You are taking any other medications, including supplements, traditional medications and herbal remedies (eg. St. John’s wort).

What are some common side-effects of this medication?

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastric discomfort
    • Take with or after food
    • Try sucking on hard candy to prevent the nausea sensation
    • Hydrate regularly to replenish the loss of fluids (if there is no fluid limitation)
  • Increased blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar levels
    • Closer monitoring will be required especially for those who have difficulties reaching their targets
    • Lifestyle changes  (eg. diet control, exercising) can be helpful to minimise these side effects

Inform your healthcare professional if these side effects persist or are intolerable.

What are some rare but serious side-effects that I need to seek medical advice immediately?

  • Severe rash
    • Skin rash is usually mild to moderate with Darunavir/Ritonavir use but can also infrequently be a symptom of a more severe condition in which severe rash is accompanied by fever, fatigue, swelling of the face and lymph glands. Seek medical attention immediately if this happens
  • Liver injury
    • Monitor for symptoms  such as the yellowing of the skin or eye whites, dark (tea-coloured) urine, pale coloured stools, unexplained pain or discomfort on the right side of the abdomen

Stop your medication and see your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any symptoms of a drug allergy which include(s) one or more of the following:

  • Swollen face/eyes/lips/tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Itchy skin rashes over your whole body

What food or medication should I avoid when I take this medication?

Darunavir/Ritonavir may clash with many other medications that you are taking concurrently hence it is important to inform your healthcare provider on all the medications that you are currently taking or have recently taken.

How should I store this medication?

Store in a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight. Keep this medication away from children.

How should I throw away this medication safely?

Pack the medication into a bag and bring it back to the pharmacy where you received the medication from.

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