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Tenofovir - What is it?

Tenofovir is a nucleotide analog reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or nuke. These drugs stop HIV from multiplying by preventing the reverse transcriptase enzyme from working. Tenofovir is licensed in Canada for the treatment of HIV infection in adults, in combination with other anti-HIV drugs. Your doctor can tell you more about the availability and coverage of tenofovir in your region. Tenofovir is not intended to be used alone. Instead, it is used as part of an HIV "cocktail.".These cocktails usually consist of three or four different HIV medications (technically known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART).

Tenofovir is being evaluated in clinical trials to determine if this first-line treatment can also prevent HIV when used every day by people who are HIV-negative, an approach known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. As a vaginal gel, tenofovir is among a newer class of candidate microbicides with specific activity against HIV. Tenofovir is distinguished by its long intracellular half-life, which allows once-a-day dosing. It also has a somewhat different resistance profile than the standard nucleoside analogs, so it may be active against many HIV isolates that have mutated to resist the approved nucleoside analogs. Tenofovir is usually well-tolerated. The most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weakness.

Symptoms include nausea, stomach pain, low fever, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). Call your doctor at once if you have any of these symptoms. Symptoms include muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, slow or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired. Early signs of lactic acidosis generally get worse over time and this condition can be fatal.


Adefovir resistant mutations can induce severe hepatic decompensation in cirrhotic patients and can be preceded by incomplete viral suppression. In these patients close viral monitoring is mandatory. Adefovir may interfere with the kidneys' ability to remove tenofovir from the blood. This could lead to increased blood levels of tenofovir and increased risk of side effects of tenofovir .

Tenofovir (brand name Viread, from Gilead Sciences in California), the drug that was to be tested in Cambodia, is already in widespread use for treating HIV, so it is available now. In a small monkey study, an injectable form of tenofovir gave 100% protection against infection by SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus, which is like HIV). Tenofovir is an alternative for HIV/AIDS patients who have become resistant to GPO-Vir, made by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and those with the hepatitis B virus. The drug is in the same group as AZT, D4T and DDI drugs, but has less powerful side-effects of sunken cheeks and withered legs and arms and has been used in treating HIV/AIDS patients in many countries. Tenofovir is normally used as an alternative first-line drug for patients who have developed resistance to Stavudine and AZT.

Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, commonly known just as tenofovir, is in a class of antiviral medications called reverse transcriptase inhibitors. When HIV infects a cell, reverse transcriptase copies the viral single stranded RNA genome into a double-stranded viral DNA. Tenofovir is important because it can replace stavudine - one of the widely used components of the basic three-drug Aids cocktail. Stavudine can cause life-threatening side-effects in some patients.

This HIV treatment information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

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Linda Wong became a tenacious researcher and writer of chronic and incurable diseases when a very good friend of hers became ill. She has produced a free report on Why this HIV cure has been suppressed by the FDA.  You have full permission to reprint this article provided this box is kept unchanged.


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