A positive story about Atripla (specifically sustiva/efavirenz) rash
Apr 6, 2011
This isn't a question but a story. I wanted to share my experience of starting Atripla as I've seen a lot of people posting questions about the rash.
I found out I had HIV 18 months ago and started Atripla 7 months ago. A week in I developed a horrendous rash. It spread over so much of my body, large swathes were just red as if I had bad sunburn. Around 65%+ of my body was covered. It wasn't itchy particularly, but my whole body was boiling hot. I had to lie in an ice cold bath several times an hour for two days. I went to the hospital twice and to my HIV clinic. Because their was no blistering the doctors said they were happy for me to wait it out. But it had spread to my face and was hard to explain away to my family who don't know I'm positive. However the doctors said if I wanted to change treatment, they would help me find a new regimen.
I persevered and the next few days were tough. I missed an exam and hid away from my family as much as possible. But eventually it went away, after around 8/9 days.
4 months later my vl was 68 and my cd4 had jumped from 261 to 437 and from 16% to 32%. I have a once a day pill that's very convenient and, despite being massively disorganised I haven't missed one dose. I'm awaiting my 6month results and have every reason to think they'll be good.
I know what works for one person might not work for another. And there are obviously a small number of people who develop a dangerous rash. However, by not being afraid to seek medical help and second opinions I was able to get the support I needed to get through the really tough 10 days of feeling like I'd been locked in a sunbed for hours!
I hope this might help people out there.
Response from Dr. Henry
Thanks for sharing your experience--treating through a severe rash due to an HIV medication such as efavirenz in the ATripla can be nerve-racking for the patient and caregivers since often will resolve but rarely the situation can worsen and even life threatening in rare circumstances so often a tough call. I am delighted that things have worked out for you. KH
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