Patients with HIV begin to experience flu-like symptoms such as lethargy, fever, and sore throat within a few weeks of infection. Once the mostly asymptomatic infection progresses to AIDS, symptoms like chronic fatigue, weight loss, fever, night sweats, and increased susceptibility to infections appear. In most cases, HIV medicine can help a patient with HIV live a longer, healthier life. Medicines can affect different people in different ways, which is why it’s so important for drug-makers to be honest with patients about all known risk factors for complications and what one might possibly expect when taking the drug.
Over the years, improved treatment options with fewer HIV drug side effects have become available. Currently, lawsuits across the nation allege that some of the HIV drug manufacturers knowingly suppressed research that would have allowed safer drugs onto the market a decade sooner. Gilead, in particular, has met with criticism that they chose profits over patients, waiting until the patent ran out on their blockbuster drug Truvada before pursuing HIV drugs that could be administered in lower doses with fewer side effects and adverse events.
Most Common Side Effects of HIV Drugs
The most common side effects of HIV drugs are benign and generally resolve within a couple of weeks of starting a new drug therapy. Mild side effects associated with antiretroviral drugs may include:
- Appetite loss
- High cholesterol
- Muscle pain
- Occasional dizziness
Sometimes simple lifestyle changes can reduce milder HIV drug symptoms. For instance, eating smaller, more frequent meals along with the pills can mitigate appetite loss, nausea, vomiting, or fatigue. Eating less spicy and fatty foods and more insoluble fiber can alleviate diarrhea. Exercise, liposuction, or other drugs like Metformin for diabetes can reduce the likelihood of unwanted fat distribution.
Exercising, eating well, changing to an earlier bedtime without day napping, and avoiding smoking or drinking can help you overcome fatigue. If these remedies do not work and the side effects persist, speak to your doctor about switching to a different medication.
On the other hand, some seemingly innocuous side effects like fevers, rashes, nausea, or fatigue can sometimes be signs of an underlying life-threatening condition, so it is important to discuss any adverse side effects with a doctor. Swelling of the eyes, lips, throat, or tongue indicates an allergic reaction requiring immediate medical attention.
Long Term HIV Medication Side Effects
Long term HIV medication side effects can appear months or even years after initiating HIV therapy. These side effects can persist for many months or years after you stop taking the drug, including:
- Bone weakening (osteopenia) and loss (osteoporosis)*
- Changes in fat storage (lipodystrophy)
- Diabetes or insulin resistance
- Heart disease
- Increased fat in the blood (hyperlipidemia)
- Kidney problems (kidney failure)*
- Liver problems (hepatotoxicity)
- Mental health effects (depression and insomnia)
- Nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy)
*Thousands of patients across the country have filed lawsuits pertaining to these long-term HIV medication side effects.
Once you have started an HIV program, it is important to avoid skipping, reducing, or suddenly stopping the treatment regimen. Cessation of antiretroviral therapy can lead to the development of resistance to other treatment drugs or result in an increased viral load and heightened transmission risk. Contact your doctor if the long-term side effects of HIV drugs are interfering with your quality of life.
Individual choice boils down to available information combined with patient history and lifestyle. Exploring your full set of options prior to taking HIV medication is the best way to prevent an adverse event. There are different types of HIV medicines on the market, which may not affect you the same way.
HIV Drugs Side Effects Lawsuit
If you’ve been experiencing HIV drugs side effects long term, you may be eligible for financial compensation through a civil lawsuit. Some of the side effects of HIV drugs have been well-known since the products debuted on the market. For instance, it has always been publicized that patients with Hepatitis B should not take Truvada, as it would likely exacerbate their symptoms.
However, other serious HIV drug side effects, like serious kidney and bone issues in patients with no prior history, have been absent from Gilead’s warning label.
To potentially qualify for a TDF drug lawsuit, you would need:
- Physician summary or pharmaceutical records showing you took a prescribed TDF drug
- Hospital or medical records showing you suffered a kidney or bone injury
A law firm could help you get these records, rule out “pre-existing conditions” as a factor, or help family members collect compensation in the event of sudden death. Initial consultations with a personal injury lawyer are always free, and you pay nothing upfront to pursue litigation. You only pay your attorney if you receive a settlement or jury award.
Here at Showard Law Firm, we have been following the HIV drug litigation from the start. Contact us to learn more about the side effects of HIV drugs and what options exist for you to cover out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills and lost wages.