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Topical Acne Medication and Antiretrovirals
Nov 25, 2017

First of all, thank you for all the effort you guys put into answering the questions here. I live in a country where HIV assistance and guidance is not as easily accessible and our support systems are still at its infancy compared to the US. This is really comforting reading answers to questions I often ask myself.

My question is, I am using an over the counter acne medication called Azelaic acid 10 percent for pimples and pimple marks, and I am often bothered with the thought that what I apply on my skin can contribute to my oral medications (3 in 1 tablet of Tenofovir, Lamivudine, Efavirenz) to not work at optimum levels or whether acne medications can predispose me to HIV related skin concerns, I tried researching it but cant find any answers. I consulted a pharmacist and he says there are no known interactions.

I cant find a dermatologist who specializes in acne and hiv medications and honestly, my status as an hiv positive is not something I could go around telling every doctor I meet.

Will azelaic acid affect my antiretrovirals? Will it trigger Hiv related skin conditions (My last CD4 count is 453, Viral load is 50 copies?

I would really appreciate pointing me out to the right direction.

Thank you

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

Your pharmacist is right. There aren't any significant drug-drug interactions (DDIs) between azelaic acid and your HIV medications.

I'm not sure what research (or search) engines you're using. I'd suggest Epocrates or the University of Liverpool's excellent A quick search found all of your medications.

Absent and DDIs, there is no concern that using the topical medication will influence your viral load.


Viral load
Slow CD4 Growth Dispite Viral Supression with Genvoya

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