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Sustiva v. Viramune

Dec 19, 2007

Stats: 29 year old male. Poz for 4 years. CD4 650, undetectable. On Atripla for 1.5 years. (First regime).

Thinking about switching to Viramune + Truvada instead of Atripla.

Issues with current combo: Some fatigue and sleep pattern disturbances. Mild morning headaches with upset stomach. Although, mild side effects in general. Concerned with potential lipotrophy.

Doctor noted benefits of Viramune to cholesterol/lipids, as well as a way to avoid side effects of sustiva.

Question: When comparing two drugs side by side, what are my pros and cons? Is Viramune better to prevent lipotrophy? Does research about cardio vascular health found in favor of Viramune trump potential liver toxicities.

I feel like my doc printed me an article about the benefits of the switch only, but I want to make sure that before I switch from a successful combo I know all I can.

Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. Pierone

Hello, and thanks for posting.

Viramune has not been shown to be better in preventing lipoatrophy than Sustiva. It is associated with better lipid levels and a better lower cardiovascular risk. The question as to whether this advantage compensates for the greater liver risk depends on the individual. For someone at relatively low cardiovascular risk the answer is probably no. Others with greater cardiovascular risk might benefit from a switch, but in practice this strategy is not often pursued. Mainly because many of the candidates for such a switch have higher CD4+ lymphocyte counts (women above 250, men above 400) which are associated with a greater chance of liver toxicity.

Another alternative would be to switch the Sustiva for the integrase inhibitor Isentress, which does not produce the sleep disturbance and has minimal impact on lipid levels.

Let us know what you and your doctor decide to do and best of luck!

First meds
Low CD4s after 2 years on Meds

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