As a nurse working with people with HIV, one of the most common questions we get asked is about interactions with your medication. We know some of the more common ones off the top of our heads, but there’s no way we could remember every single one – so we turn to our database.
n app, HIV iChart, by the University of Liverpool who run our holy grail of drug interactions and have a full database via their website. They have been kind enough to port their database into an app – which deserves placing into the little “medical” folder a lot of us have on our iPhones or iPads.
Here’s a little run through, click any of the images to enlarge them…
1. Select what ARVs you are taking. Note that single combination pills are listed in their separate ingredients – so get to know what medications make up your regime. For example I have chosen Atazanavir/Ritonovir/Truvada (tenofovir & emtricibitine)
2. After selecting your ARVs click next and it gives you a whole list of over the counter and prescription medications to choose from.
3. Here it gives you the interactions expected
4. On the final step it gives you the reasons and some advice – taking antacids with Atazanavir is not great as you wont absorb you ARV – it recommends taking them two hours later.
Not absorbing your meds is obviously not a good thing and can lead to all sorts of complications like viral blips and resistance. What is just as worrying though is the complex drug interactions that occur with some medicines.
Let’s run another scenario…
Imagine your GP doesn’t know you are HIV positive. You’re on Truvada, Atazanavir, Ritonovir but he doesn’t know because we can’t write to your GP to tell him without your permission.
You have high colesterol which is very common as we all get a bit older so he say’s – hey take some simvastatin, – its cheap and lowers your cholesterol wonderfully!
Uh-oh, looks like we have a problem!
In this case simvastatin and Atazanavir can cause rhabdomyolisis – a condition that does not have great outcomes for your kidneys or your life expectancy.
Ultimately this is one of the reasons we push people to tell their GP’s so we can keep in contact with the main person responsible for your general health. GP’s have access to our more complex interaction databases and seek advice from us all the time to see what they can and can’t give.
This App though is a great thing to have for those times you’re in boots and wonder if that cough medicine or allergy pill is ok to take.
On a final note – if you are thinking of starting new medicines along side your ARV’s – let your clinic know, we have specialist pharmacists who can answer any question you can throw their way.
Stay healthy 🙂 Oh and get your flu jabs!
Andrew Crawford-Jones (@ACJ_UK on twitter)