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What Is HIV?

HIV is a virus that attacks the human immune system. There is no cure for HIV. Unlike some other viruses, such as the common cold, HIV cannot be cleared from the body. However, there are treatments available. Talk to your healthcare provider and see below for more information.

How can HIV affect your body?

HIV attacks and destroys CD4 T-cells — important immune system cells that help your body fight infections. The more CD4 T-cells that are destroyed, the weaker your immune system can become. With fewer CD4 T-cells due to HIV, it can be harder for your body to fight illnesses and infections.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

Being HIV positive is not the same as having AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). HIV is a virus that kills CD4 T-cells in the body. Over time, if so many CD4 T-cells are killed that the body has a reduced ability to fight infection, HIV can advance to AIDS. HIV infection advances to AIDS when there are less than 200 CD4 T-cells per cubic millimeter of blood. If this happens, it means your immune system has become very weak, and you can quickly become very sick.

How is HIV transmitted?

HIV is transmitted through contact with certain body fluids, such as semen, vaginal or anal fluids, breast milk, and blood. Contact with these body fluids can occur during unprotected sex or when sharing needles or other items with body fluids on them. Mothers can pass the HIV virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. You CANNOT transmit HIV through contact with sweat, tears, saliva, bath or pool water, or by sharing dishes or drinking glasses, hugging or shaking hands.

What are the steps you can take to live healthy with HIV?

HIV does not have a cure, but there are steps you can take to live healthy with HIV, including taking HIV medicines. HIV treatment helps lower your viral load and, as a result, helps protect your immune system.

Ask your healthcare provider about other things you can do to help stay healthy, including:

  • Avoiding sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Using protection every time you have sex.
  • Never sharing or reusing needles.
  • Getting help with substance abuse, stress, or depression.
  • Exercising and eating well.
  • Stopping smoking. Smoking can be more harmful to people living with HIV.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

What is the most important information I should know about BIKTARVY?

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What is BIKTARVY®?

BIKTARVY is a complete, 1-pill, once-a-day prescription medicine used to treat HIV-1 in adults and children who weigh at least 55 pounds. It can either be used in people who have never taken HIV-1 medicines before, or people who are replacing their current HIV-1 medicines and whose healthcare provider determines they meet certain requirements.

BIKTARVY does not cure HIV-1 or AIDS. HIV-1 is the virus that causes AIDS.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

What is the most important information I should know about BIKTARVY?

BIKTARVY may cause serious side effects:

  • Worsening of hepatitis B (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV-1 and HBV and stop taking BIKTARVY, your HBV may suddenly get worse. Do not stop taking BIKTARVY without first talking to your healthcare provider, as they will need to monitor your health.

Who should not take BIKTARVY?

Do not take BIKTARVY if you take:

  • dofetilide
  • rifampin
  • any other medicines to treat HIV-1

What are the other possible side effects of BIKTARVY?

Serious side effects of BIKTARVY may also include:

  • Changes in your immune system. Your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight infections. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any new symptoms after you start taking BIKTARVY.
  • Kidney problems, including kidney failure. Your healthcare provider should do blood and urine tests to check your kidneys. If you develop new or worse kidney problems, they may tell you to stop taking BIKTARVY.
  • Too much lactic acid in your blood (lactic acidosis), which is a serious but rare medical emergency that can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: weakness or being more tired than usual, unusual muscle pain, being short of breath or fast breathing, stomach pain with nausea and vomiting, cold or blue hands and feet, feel dizzy or lightheaded, or a fast or abnormal heartbeat.
  • Severe liver problems, which in rare cases can lead to death. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you get these symptoms: skin or the white part of your eyes turns yellow, dark “tea-colored” urine, light-colored stools, loss of appetite for several days or longer, nausea, or stomach-area pain.

The most common side effects of BIKTARVY in clinical studies were diarrhea (6%), nausea (6%), and headache (5%). Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects that bother you or don’t go away.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before taking BIKTARVY?

  • All your health problems. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have or have had any kidney or liver problems, including hepatitis virus infection.
  • All the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, antacids, laxatives, vitamins, and herbal supplements. BIKTARVY and other medicines may affect each other. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to your healthcare provider and pharmacist, and ask if it is safe to take BIKTARVY with all of your other medicines.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if BIKTARVY can harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare provider if you become pregnant while taking BIKTARVY.
  • If you are breastfeeding (nursing) or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed. HIV-1 can be passed to the baby in breast milk.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call ‍1‑800‑FDA‑10881‑800‑FDA‑1088.

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