Kaletra HIV therapy.

December 20, 2006 | by DoctorSolve

How does this medicine work?

Kaletra blocks HIV protease, a chemical which is needed for HIV to multiply. It helps reduce the amount of HIV in your blood and increases the number of T-cells. HIV infection destroys CD4 T-cells, which are important to the immune system. After a large number of T-cells are destroyed, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) develops. Reducing the amount of HIV in the blood and helping to raise the number of T-cells reduces the chance of death or infections that happen when your immune system is weak.

How would I take Kaletra?

Kaletra is always used in combination with other anti-HIV medicines to treat people with HIV infection. It is available in tablet or liquid form. Kaletra tablets are supplied in a bottle of 120 pills. It is also available in an oral solution that comes in 2 bottles (160 mL each) for a 30-day supply. The liquid contains large amounts of alcohol.
The usual dose for adults is 2 tablets with or without food or 5 mL of the liquid with food twice a day in combination with other anti-HIV medicines. If you’re new to HIV therapy, meaning you have not taken HIV medications in the past, your doctor may prescribe Kaletra once a day. This dosing option consists of 4 tablets with or without food or 10 mL of liquid with food once daily in combination with other anti-HIV medicines.

Will Kaletra cure HIV or AIDS?

No HIV medication, including Kaletra, can cure HIV or AIDS. The long-term effects of this medicine are not known at this time. People taking Kaletra may still get opportunistic infections or other conditions that happen with HIV infection. Some of these conditions are pneumonia, herpes virus infections, and Mycobacterium avium complex infections.

Will Kaletra reduce the chance of spreading HIV to other people?

No, Kaletra does not reduce the risk of passing HIV to others through sexual contact or blood contamination. You should take steps to minimize the risks associated with these behaviors. Continue to practice safe sex and do not use or share dirty needles.

Does my doctor need to know anything before I start taking Kaletra?

Tell your doctor about any of the following:

  • If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant: The effects of Kaletra on pregnant women or their unborn babies are not known.
  • If you are breast feeding: Do not breast-feed if you are taking this medicine. You should not breast-feed if you have HIV. If you are a woman who has or will have a baby, talk with your doctor about the best way to feed your baby. You should be aware that if your baby does not already have HIV, there is a chance HIV can be transmitted through breast-feeding.
  • If you have liver problems: If you have liver problems or are infected with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, you should tell your doctor before taking Kaletra.
  • If you have diabetes: Some people taking protease inhibitors develop new or more serious diabetes or high blood sugar. Tell your doctor if you have diabetes or an increase in thirst or frequent urination.
  • If you have hemophilia: Patients taking Kaletra may have increased bleeding.

Does Kaletra have any side effects?

  • Blood tests in patients using Kaletra may show possible liver problems. People with liver disease such as hepatitis B or hepatitis C who take this medicine may have worsening liver disease. Liver problems including death have occurred in patients taking Kaletra. In studies, it is unclear if Kaletra caused these liver problems because some patients had other illnesses or were taking other medicines.
  • Some patients taking Kaletra can develop serious problems with their pancreas (pancreatitis), which may cause death. You have a higher chance of having pancreatitis if you have had it before. Tell your doctor if you have nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. These may be signs of pancreatitis.
  • Some patients have large increases in triglycerides and cholesterol. The long-term chance of getting complications such as heart attacks or stroke due to increases in triglycerides and cholesterol caused by protease inhibitors is not known at this time.
  • Diabetes and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) occur in patients taking protease inhibitors such as Kaletra. Some patients had diabetes before starting protease inhibitors, others did not. Some patients need changes in their diabetes medicine. Others need new diabetes medicine.
  • Changes in body fat have been seen in some patients taking antiretroviral therapy. These changes may include increased amount of fat in the upper back and neck (“buffalo hump”), breast, and around the trunk. Loss of fat from the legs, arms and face may also happen. The cause and long term health effects of these conditions are not known at this time.
  • Some patients with hemophilia have increased bleeding with protease inhibitors.

There have been other side effects in patients taking Kaletra. However, these side effects may have been due to other medicines that patients were taking or to the illness itself. Some of these side effects can be serious.
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