Does Biktarvy Cause Weight Gain?

Health News HIV/AIDS

Biktarvy, a combination medication containing Bictegravir, Emtricitabine, and Tenofovir Alafenamide, is widely used for the treatment of HIV-1 infection. As with any medication, understanding potential side effects is crucial for patients and healthcare providers.

One side effect that has garnered attention is weight gain. This blog delves Does Biktarvy cause weight gain, exploring the evidence and considerations for those taking or considering this medication.

What is Biktarvy?

What is Biktarvy?
What is Biktarvy?

Biktarvy is a once-daily pill that combines three antiretroviral medications:

  • Bictegravir: An integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI) that blocks the virus from integrating into the host DNA.
  • Emtricitabine: A nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI) that prevents the virus from replicating.
  • Tenofovir Alafenamide: Another NRTI with a better safety profile compared to its predecessor, Tenofovir Disoproxil fumarate.

This combination is known for its efficacy, tolerability, and convenience, making it a popular choice in HIV treatment.

What is Biktarvy Used for?

  • Treatment of HIV-1 Infection in Adults
  • Treatment of HIV-1 Infection in Pediatric Patients
  • Combination Therapy for Simplified Regimen
  • High Efficacy and Good Tolerability
  • Improved Safety Profile

Biktarvy Side Effects:

 Biktarvy Side Effects:
Biktarvy Side Effects:

Through the blog, we have been searching for the answer to the question: Does Biktarvy cause weight gain? 

Apart from that, there are other side effects too. 

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • Abnormal dreams

Less Common Biktarvy Side Effects:

  • Weight Gain: Some patients report moderate weight gain.
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Stomach Pain

Serious Biktarvy Side Effects:

While serious side effects are less common, they can occur and require immediate medical attention:

  • Lactic Acidosis (a build-up of lactic acid in the blood)
  • Severe Liver Problems
  • New or Worsening Kidney Problems
  • Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome (IRIS)
  • Allergic Reactions
  • Changes in Bone Mineral Density

How does Biktarvy work for Weight Gain?

How does Biktarvy work for weight gain
How does Biktarvy work for weight gain?

To understand how Biktarvy might be associated with weight changes, it’s important to consider the following points:

  1. Mechanism of Action: Biktarvy is a combination of three antiretroviral drugs—bictegravir, emtricitabine, and tenofovir alafenamide. These drugs work together to inhibit the replication of HIV, reducing the viral load in the body and helping to restore immune function.
  2. Immune Reconstitution: As HIV is brought under control and the immune system begins to recover, the body may gain weight. This phenomenon, known as immune reconstitution, can lead to weight gain as the body returns to a healthier state.
  3. Metabolic Effects: Antiretroviral medications, including the components of Biktarvy, can influence metabolism and fat distribution. Some antiretrovirals are associated with changes in lipid profiles and insulin sensitivity, which can lead to weight gain or changes in body fat distribution.
  4. General Health Improvement: Effective HIV treatment often results in an overall improvement in health and well-being, which can lead to an increase in appetite and subsequent weight gain.
  5. Side Effects and Individual Variability: Not everyone on Biktarvy will experience weight gain, and the extent of weight change can vary between individuals. Factors such as diet, lifestyle, pre-existing health conditions, and other medications can influence weight changes.

It’s important to monitor weight and discuss any significant changes with a healthcare provider, as they can help determine if the weight gain is related to Biktarvy or other factors. Adjustments to treatment or lifestyle recommendations may be necessary to manage any undesired weight changes.

 Administration and Adherence:

  • Dosage: Biktarvy is taken once daily with or without food, making it convenient and enhancing adherence.
  • Adherence Importance: Strict adherence to the medication regimen is essential to prevent the development of resistance and to ensure the continued suppression of the virus.

Does Biktarvy Cause Weight Gain?

Evidence on Weight Gain:

Several studies and patient reports have indicated that weight gain can occur in individuals taking Biktarvy and other contemporary antiretroviral therapies, particularly those including integrase inhibitors like Bictegravir:

1. Clinical Trials and Studies:

  • Initial Clinical Trials: Initial studies did not highlight significant weight gain as a primary side effect of Biktarvy. However, longer-term data and real-world studies have provided more insights.
  • Comparative Studies: Research comparing Biktarvy to other ART regimens has shown that weight gain can occur with Biktarvy, similar to other integrase inhibitors.
    For example, a study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy found moderate weight gain over 48 weeks in patients taking Biktarvy, comparable to those on other INSTI-based regimens.

2. Mechanisms Behind Weight Gain:

  • Health Restoration: For some patients, initiating effective HIV treatment improves overall health and appetite, potentially leading to weight gain.
  • Metabolic Changes: Antiretroviral drugs, including integrase inhibitors, might cause metabolic changes that contribute to weight gain. Biktarvy, an antiretroviral therapy (ART), can cause changes in metabolism. This includes alterations in how the body processes and stores fats and sugars, potentially leading to weight gain.
  • Individual Factors: Age, baseline weight, lifestyle, and other health conditions can influence weight changes during treatment.
  • Redistribution of Body Fat: Some antiretroviral drugs are associated with lipodystrophy, which involves changes in body fat distribution. While not specific to Biktarvy, this could contribute to perceived weight gain.

Managing Potential Weight Gain:

For patients concerned about weight gain while taking Biktarvy, here are some practical steps to consider:

  1. Monitor Weight: Keep a regular weight log and talk to your healthcare physician about any noticeable changes.
  2. Healthy Diet: Prioritize eating a diet full of nutritious grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and balance. Reduce your consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods and drinks.
  3. Regular Exercise: Take up a regular exercise regimen, such as strength training, cycling, walking, or jogging. Try to get in at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-intense activity.
  4. Consult Healthcare Providers: Discuss weight gain with your healthcare physician if it starts to worry you. If necessary, they can examine alternate treatments and provide tailored guidance.

Endnote of Biktarvy Causes Weight Gain:

While Biktarvy can be associated with weight gain, this side effect varies among individuals and can often be managed through lifestyle changes and regular monitoring. The benefits of effective HIV treatment typically outweigh the potential for moderate weight gain. Patients should maintain open communication with their healthcare providers to address any concerns and ensure the best possible health outcomes.


How long does Biktarvy Stay in your System?

Biktarvy stays in the system for around 17-19 hours until it clears out. Within the first four weeks of treatment, the medicine typically begins to show results in terms of a significant decrease in the amount of HIV present in the blood. For most individuals, the viral load drops to undetectable levels in three to six months. The quantity of CD4+ T cells in your body often rises gradually when you start taking Biktarvy. To ensure that you have reached and remain in the undetectable range, it is crucial to have your HIV viral load evaluated regularly before you can discontinue the medication. 

Do you have to take Biktarvy Forever?

For most people living with HIV, taking Biktarvy or another form of Antiretroviral Treatment is a lifelong commitment. This continuous treatment is necessary to keep the virus suppressed, maintain a healthy immune system, and prevent transmission. It also answers the question: Does Biktarvy cause weight gain, as Biktarvy is continuously taken? While there may be instances where a change in medication is required, adherence to a prescribed regimen is crucial for long-term health and effectiveness of the treatment.

Does Biktarvy prevent HIV Transmission?

Biktarvy, by effectively suppressing the HIV viral load to undetectable levels, plays a crucial role in preventing the transmission of HIV. The principle of U=U (Undetectable = Untransmittable) underscores that individuals with an undetectable viral load on consistent Anti-Retroviral Treatment do not transmit HIV to their sexual partners.

What can you not take with Biktarvy?

While Biktarvy is a highly effective treatment for HIV-1, it is crucial to be aware of potential drug interactions that can impact its efficacy and safety. Avoiding or timing the intake of certain antacids, supplements, antibiotics, anticonvulsants, herbal supplements, hepatitis C medications, and other antiretroviral drugs can help maintain the effectiveness of Biktarvy.

Can I take Biktarvy at Night?

Taking Biktarvy at night is an option that many patients find convenient and beneficial, especially if it helps manage side effects or fits better into their daily routine. The most crucial factor is to take the medication consistently at the same time each day.



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