Healthy Living

HIV: What Are Protease Inhibitors?

HIV: What Are Protease Inhibitors?

Key Takeaways

  • Protease inhibitors and HIV
  • Side effects of protease inhibitors

HIV: What Are Protease Inhibitors?

Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), is a virus that attacks the immune system of the body.  When the virus enters the body, its absorbed in the bloodstream, and slowly weakens the immune system leaving the body vulnerable to other infections.  Symptoms associated with HIV are extremely serious.

HIV develops in the body of the host, advancing in stages throughout the exposure period.  To make it possible for the virus to develop in the body, it invades Cd4 cells, manipulating their genetic make-up through protein enzymes.  Through the use of the Cd4 cells, it generate duplicates of itself by dividing larger polyproteins in the body.

Protease inhibitors

A protease inhibitor is a drug or chemical given to people with HIV.  It aids the body in blocking the enzyme called protease, which HIV utilizes in breaking down large polyproteins into smaller pieces, which assemble into new viral particles.
Protease inhibitors prevent HIV from increasing its viral load and infecting new cells.  It also helps in relieving the effects of HIV.

How do protease inhibitors function?

Once you take protease inhibitor drugs, they provide an enzyme to block the protease enzymes.  HIV uses protease enzymes in reproducing itself.  Once the inhibitors blocks the protease, they interfere with the life cycle of HIV, preventing the virus from multiplying.
The following are examples of protease inhibitors.

How effective are protease inhibitors?

People with HIV taking antiretroviral drugs are required to take protease to improve their treatment.  Almost all patients have taken this with cobicistat or ritonavir to increase their efficiency.  When you visit a doctor for protease inhibitors, you will also receive other pills which are meant to make your treatment more effective.

Protease inhibitors side effects

Because of their strength, protease inhibitors have a number of side effects. These may include:

  • Some minor liver problems
  • Rash
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Changes in how you feel taste in foods
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Redistribution of fat storage in your body
  • Increased triglyceride (blood fat) and cholesterol levels

How do protease inhibitors interact with other drugs?

Protease inhibitors can interact very well with drugs like statin.  These are drugs used to lower cholesterol in the body. They may include:

  • Lovastatin
  • Pravastatin
  • Simvastatin
  • Fluvastatin
  • Atorvastatin

By interacting with these drugs, protease inhibitors can increase statin in your body which may cause muscle pain or kidney damage.
Protease inhibitors can also interact with Fluticase (Flonase) which is an OTC allergy drug.
Protease inhibitors also interact with over-the–counter drugs used to relieve stomach acid.  These drugs may include ranitidine (Zantac), omeprazole (Prilosec), and Tums.
Protease inhibitors can interact with a number of other drugs like supplements, herbs, over-the-counter and prescribed drugs.

The bottom line

Protease inhibitors are very important drugs for people living with HIV.  If you are not taking protease inhibitors then you should visit a doctor for to see if you qualify.  Protease inhibitors are sensitive, strong and sometimes cause very dangerous side effects.
Before you start using any type of protease inhibitor, you should consult a doctor.  Do not mix protease inhibitors with other drugs before speaking with your doctor.