(Last updated 11/15/2016; last reviewed 11/15/2016)
Hepatotoxicity means damage to the liver caused by a medicine, chemical, or herbal or dietary supplement. Hepatotoxicity can be a side effect of many different HIV medicines.
People taking HIV medicines should know about this potential side effect of some HIV medicines. In some cases, damage to the liver can be life-threatening. Learn more about the potential side effects of HIV medicines in the AIDSinfo Drug Database.
The following factors may increase the risk of hepatotoxicity due to HIV medicines:
Symptoms of hepatotoxicity include the following:
If you are taking HIV medicines and have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. However, do NOT cut down on, skip, or stop taking your HIV medicines unless your health care provider tells you to.
Liver function tests (LFTs) are a group of blood tests used to check for damage to the liver. Before treatment with HIV medicines begins, LFTs are done to check for already-existing liver damage. The risk of hepatotoxicity is greater in people who have liver damage before they start taking HIV medicines. If LFT results show pre-existing liver damage, HIV medicines that may cause hepatotoxicity should be avoided. There are many other HIV medicines available to use instead.
Once treatment with HIV medicines begins, health care providers use LFTs to monitor for signs of hepatotoxicity.
Management of hepatotoxicity due to HIV medicines varies depending on the extent of damage to the liver. Sometimes it’s necessary to stop taking the HIV medicine that is causing the hepatotoxicity. However, the decision to stop taking an HIV medicine should only be done in consultation with a health care provider. If you are taking HIV medicines, do NOT cut down on, skip, or stop taking your HIV medicines unless your health care provider tells you to.
If you are taking or plan to take HIV medicines, talk to your health care provider about the risk of hepatotoxicity.