August 16, 2001
Although the non-nuke nevirapine (Viramune) can be an effective part of combination therapy, its use is associated with a number of side effects, including the following:
The most common of these side effects is rash. Indeed, as many as 17% of people with HIV/AIDS (PHAs) who take nevirapine develop a rash. It is not clear what factors make some people more likely than others to develop rash. To investigate this, researchers in Rome collected information from the medical records of 429 nevirapine-users who had the following profile before they began taking the drug:
The following combinations of drugs were taken with nevirapine by the following proportion of people:
After monitoring subjects for about 11 months, researchers found the following:
In analyzing their data, the researchers found that rash developed in the following proportions of women and men:
The researchers found that the following factors were associated with a significantly increased risk of developing a rash while using nevirapine:
The researchers noted a trend whereby subjects with higher CD4+ cell counts were more likely to develop a rash than subjects with lower CD4+ cell counts.
The following factors were not associated with developing a rash while on nevirapine:
The Italian researchers are not sure why women were nearly four times more likely to develop a rash than men. Other researchers have found similar results and noted that women are more likely than men to develop rashes to the following drugs:
The research team concluded that anti-histamines and corticosteriods should not be used at the beginning of nevirapine therapy. Indeed, most subjects who used these anti-allergy drugs did so in the false hope of preventing nevirapine-associated rash. The researchers also concluded that their findings should be taken into account when doctors are making decisions about which anti-HIV drugs to prescribe.