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What are drug interactions?

for Veterans and the Public

What are drug interactions?

Your anti-HIV medications can be affected by other medicines, including other prescription drugs you are taking and drugs you buy over the counter at a pharmacy. Even herbal therapies and some things found in common foods can affect your HIV medicines.

When one drug affects how another drug behaves, this is called a drug-drug interaction. For example, when taken together, some drugs become less effective or cause side effects.

When something in food affects how a drug behaves, it is called a drug-food interaction. For example, grapefruit juice, taken at the same time as certain drugs, can boost the amount of these drugs in your bloodstream to an undesirable level. Everyone taking anti-HIV drugs needs to be very careful about these interactions. Luckily, many of these interactions are well known to your provider, and can be managed.

Your VA health care provider can give you a list of drugs and foods to avoid, depending on what kind of medicine you are taking. Ask for this information for each drug that you are taking.

Also, be sure that you tell your doctor about every single medication, drug, and herb you are taking--whether you got them by prescription or not.