AIDS Home > Sustiva Uses
Sustiva is used for treating HIV infection and AIDS. The medication is not a cure, but it can help prevent HIV from spreading to uninfected cells in the body. Sustiva is approved for use in adults and children as young as three months old. Healthcare providers may occasionally recommend off-label Sustiva uses, such as preventing HIV in people exposed to the virus.
Sustiva® (efavirenz) is a prescription medication used to treat HIV and AIDS. It is part of a group of medications known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) was initially reported in the United States in 1981. Since then, it has become a significant worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). At first, an HIV infection usually does not cause any obvious symptoms (see HIV Symptoms), and most people have no idea that they have been infected with the virus, unless they happen to be tested for HIV. However, by killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, HIV will eventually begin to progressively destroy the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers (see AIDS Symptoms).
HIV is commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. Transmission also happens through contact with infected blood, which frequently occurs among IV drug users, who share needles or syringes contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus. Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
Sustiva 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 (sometimes five) different HIV medications (technically known as highly active antiretroviral therapy or HAART). Using combinations of medications helps to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs.