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Talk to your healthcare provider about Sustiva warnings and precautions to help ensure that the medication is right for you. Some people should not take Sustiva, including those who are allergic to components of the drug or who are taking certain medications. Sustiva warnings and precautions also include the possibility of psychiatric problems, skin rashes, seizures, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Sustiva: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Sustiva® (efavirenz) if you have:
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
In addition, be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Sustiva Warnings and Precautions

Warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Sustiva include the following:
  • Sustiva can interact with several different medications. Many of these interactions are quite dangerous. Make sure that all of your healthcare providers know that you are taking Sustiva, and check with your healthcare providers before starting or stopping any new medications (see Sustiva Drug Interactions).
  • Sustiva can cause psychiatric problems, including anxiety, depression, aggressiveness, and suicidal thoughts or behavior. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are experiencing any of these side effects while on Sustiva.
  • The medication can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and problems concentrating. Make sure you know how Sustiva affects you before driving, operating heavy machinery, or consuming alcoholic beverages.
  • Sustiva often causes harmless skin rashes. However, if you have a rash with blisters, loss of skin, a fever, or mouth sores, tell your healthcare provider immediately, as this may be a sign of a life-threatening reaction to Sustiva.
  • If you have liver disease (especially hepatitis), high liver enzymes, or are taking other drugs that can damage the liver, your healthcare provider should monitor your liver function using regular blood tests to make sure that Sustiva is not causing further liver damage. Also, you may need a lower dosage, since the liver helps to remove the drug from the blood.
  • Sustiva may increase your risk for seizures. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have epilepsy or a history of seizures.
  • Sustiva may increase your triglyceride or cholesterol level. You healthcare provider should monitor your cholesterol and triglycerides while you are taking Sustiva.
  • Sustiva can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and may lose weight in other areas.
  • There have been a few reports of Sustiva causing false-positive drug tests for marijuana.
  • Sustiva is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, whether or not you are taking medications.
  • As with all HIV medications, it is important that you take Sustiva exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
  • Sustiva is considered a pregnancy Category D medication. This means that it is probably not safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Sustiva and Pregnancy).

Women able to have children must have a pregnancy test before starting Sustiva and must use a barrier contraceptive (such as condoms), even if other forms of birth control, such as birth control pills are used. Women must continue to use birth control for 12 weeks after stopping Sustiva, because the medication remains in the blood for quite a while after the medication is stopped. 

  • It is not known whether Sustiva passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Sustiva and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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