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Etravirine, also dispensed under the brand name Intelence;®, is used to treat HIV infections. The medication is prescribed for individuals who have shown resistance to other HIV drugs, whether or not they have developed AIDS. Etravirine is commonly used when the HIV infection does not respond to other medications.
The development of AIDS is not prevented by Etravirine; nor does it prevent or cure HIV, and it does not prevent the patient from spreading the virus to others. It works by slowing the progress of the HIV virus through the body. Because etravirine does not treat or cure HIV, it is important to continue to take the medication even if symptoms of the disease go away. Stopping the medication may allow the virus to spread through a patient's system.
Typically, Etravirine is prescribed for individuals who have shown resistance to other medications in the same drug class, known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, or NNRTIs. Etravirine is unique in that patients who develop resistance to other NNRTIs still often respond to this medication. It was approved by the FDA for use in the United States in January, 2008.
Other NNRTIs used in the treatment of HIV include Rilpivirine, Nevirapine, Delavirdine, and Efavirenz. These drugs work by blocking the activity of the DNA enzymes that the virus needs to replicate. They are part of a larger group of drugs known as reverse-transcriptase inhibitors that are also used to treat some types of tumors and cancers.
NNRTIs are part of the combination of HIV medications known as anti-HIV cocktails. The development of these combinations of medications were a major breakthrough in increasing the life expectancy of individuals with HIV. Other medications that make up the anti-HIV cocktail include entry inhibitors, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, CCR5 receptor antagonists, and maturation inhibitors.
Etravirine is taken in tablet form, typically twice a day. For patients who have difficulty swallowing, etravirine can be dissolved in water without affecting absorption. Side effects of the medication are digestive problems, such as nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or vomiting. Other side effects include high blood pressure and a sensation of numbness, burning, or pain in the hands or feet.
More serious side effects that can affect some individuals include fatigue, loss of appetite, stomach pain, and rashes, swelling, or blisters on the skin or in the mouth. These side effects may be severe enough to result in a change in medication. It is important to report any side effects to a healthcare provider. Do not discontinue the medication without seeking medical advice.
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