Abacavir (Adverse effects)

Abacavir is a reverse transcriptase inhibitor antiretroviral drug used in the treatment of HIV. Hypersensitivity to the drug, the main adverse effect, is associated with the presence of the HLA-B*5701 allele.

Abacavir is in a class of antiretroviral medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) used along with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It works by impeding HIV reproduction.

Although abacavir does not cure HIV, it does decrease the amount of HIV in the organism and maintains it at low levels. It also increases the number of CD4 cells in the blood (CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that play an important role helping your organism fight infection).


  • Ziagen®


What is currently recommended now is to determine the presence of HLA-B*5701 before initiating treatment and not to administer it if the patient is a carrier. The patient should be advised to contact the doctor if there is any indication of hypersensibility. The treatment should not be restarted if there is any sign of hypersensibility.

Other side effects of abacavir are:

  • Nauseas
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia
  • Asthenia
  • Headache
  • Sleep disorders
  • Sweating
  • Arthromyalgia
  • Paresthesia
  • Dyspnea
  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Discomfort and an increase in hepatic enzymes


Some people who take Ziagen® for HIV have a greater risk of suffering adverse side effects. They should pay special attention when taking abacavir if:

  • They have previously had a hepatic disease, including hepatitis B or C
  • They are very overweight (especially women)
  • They are diabetic and use insulin
  • They have a serious renal illness
  • They take phenytoin, ribavirin or methadone

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