Stavudine is a prescription used for the treatment of HIV infection. This is used with other HIV medications to help control the infection. This helps to lessen the amount of HIV in your body so your immune system can work better. This also lowers your chance of getting HIV complications and improves your quality of life.
HIV is a virus that damages your immune system. The immune system helps the body fight off infections. HIV is transmitted through bodily fluids that include:
- Breast milk
- Vaginal and rectal fluids
It might take years before HIV weakens your immune system wherein you could have AIDS without medication. AIDS is a potentially life-threatening condition caused by HIV. By damaging your immune system, HIV interferes with your body’s ability to fight the organisms that cause the disease. Most people infected by this disease develop a flu-like illness within a month or two. It is after the virus enters the body. This illness is known as primary or acute HIV infection that lasts for a few weeks. Possible signs and symptoms may include:
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Swollen lymph glands mainly on the neck
- Sore throat and painful mouth sores
This medication is not a cure for HIV infection. To lessen your risk of spreading the disease, you may do the following:
- Always use an effective barrier method like polyurethane condoms or dental dams
- Continue to take all HIV medications exactly as it is prescribed
- Do not share personal items like syringes, razors, or toothbrush
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has already approved this prescription. Stavudine is in the class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI). This medicine comes as a capsule for oral use. Each capsule is available in the dosage strengths of 15 mg, 20 mg, 300 mg, and 40 mg.
How does Stavudine work?
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by infection with HIV. This virus attacks cells of the immune system. It is mainly the white blood cells known as CD4 T-helper lymphocytes. These cells usually work to stimulate other cells in the immune system to fight infection. Since HIV kills CD4 T-helper cells, over time the body becomes less able to fight the virus or subsequent infections. Once the virus is inside the CD4 T-cell, it increases. A portion of the development of viral growth includes the conversion of the virus’s genetic material into DNA. This is attained by a compound vital to the virus called reverse transcriptase. Reverse transcriptase is a compound known as an enzyme.
Stavudine blocks the action of the reverse transcriptase. In that way, it inhibits the transformation of viral RNA into DNA. This ends the virus from growing.
There is no cure for HIV, but Stavudine is one of several medications that lower the amount of virus in the body. This helps the immune system to recover. Therefore, it slows down or stops the progression of the disease from HIV to AIDS.
A combination of several anti-HIV medicines is necessary to fight HIV. The virus can become resistant to one agent very rapidly. This is known as combined antiretroviral therapy or highly active antiretroviral therapy. Stavudine is used in combination with other anti-HIV drugs that attack the HIV in different ways. This reduces the virus’s capability to duplicate and increase. This as well helps prevent it from becoming resistant to treatment.
How to use Stavudine?
Stavudine is to be taken by mouth with a full glass of water. It is usually taken every 12 hours. You may take each dose with or without food. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to the medication. You must take this medication exactly as it is prescribed. You should not take more or less or more often than it is given by your doctor.
Swallow the capsule as a whole. Do not break, chew, or crush it. Take each dose exactly as it is given by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than the prescription. Let your doctor know if your condition does not improve or if it gets worse. If you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember it. Skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule if it’s almost time for your next intake. Do not double the dose to make up for the missed dose.
What are the side effects of Stavudine?
Common side effects:
- Burning pain in your hands or feet
Call your doctor right away if you have these side effects:
- Weakness in your feet, legs, hands, or arms
- Liver problems (jaundice, loss of appetite, or dark urine
- Pancreatitis (severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, fever, or nausea and vomiting)
- Trouble speaking or swallowing
- Problems with balance or eye movement
- Weakness or prickly feeling
- Swelling in your neck or throat
- Menstrual changes
Warnings and Precautions
- Stavudine should not be used during breastfeeding or pregnancy. However, other drugs may be safely used in pregnancy or breastfeeding providing the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn baby. Let your doctor know if you plan to become pregnant or breastfeed.
- Inform your doctor if you have any allergies. This product may contain an ingredient that causes an allergic reaction. If there are any signs of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away.
- Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications including vitamins, herbal products, or food supplements.
- If there are any signs of an overdose, call for medical help right away.
This medication should not be used in people:
- Over 65 years of age
- With decreased kidney or liver function
- The liver disease particularly hepatitis B or C
- An enlarged liver
- A history of alcohol abuse
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
This should not be used in:
- Children weighing less than 14 kg
- People with low levels of hemoglobin in their blood
- Obese women
- People with low levels of white blood cells called neutrophils in their blood