Drug therapy for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is highly effective in suppressing viral replication and restoring immune function in patients with HIV. However, this same treatment can also be associated with immunotoxicity. For example, zidovudine and various other antiretroviral agents are capable of causing bone marrow suppression. Agents used to treat opportunistic infections in these individuals, including ganciclovir, foscarnet, and sulfamethoxazoletrimethoprim, can cause additional hematotoxicity. Drug-drug interactions must also be considered and managed in order to control iatrogenic causes of immunotoxicity. In this review, we examine the normal immune response to HIV, and the benefits of antiretroviral therapy in prolonging immune function. We then discuss immune-related adverse effects of drugs used to treat HIV and the opportunistic infections that are common among these patients. Finally, we address in vitro, animal, and clinical evidence of toxicity associated with various combination use of these agents.
Keywords: Human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, antiretrovirals, adverse drug reactions, drug interactions, bone marrow toxicity, zidovudine
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