Side Effects

HIV Treatment Drug Side Effects

Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, or TDF drugs may be linked to damage to the bones and kidneys


Kidney Damage

TDF-based drugs have been linked to a number of kidney problems including chronic kidney disease (CKD), tubular toxicity, severe renal deficiency and in severe cases, kidney failure (aka acute renal failure, or ARF). In a 2012 UCSF study, doctors found that for each year that a patient took a TDF drug, the “risk of rapid decline in kidney function rose 11 percent and risk of developing chronic kidney disease (CKD) rose 33 percent.” Another study published in 2016 found that patients who continued taking TDF drugs for 6 months after showing early signs of kidney damage had significantly higher rates of chronic kidney disease than patients who stopped taking it.

Bone Damage

Researchers have reported a strong link between TDF-based medications and a loss of bone density. A loss of bone density typically has no symptoms unless a fracture occurs. Short of a bone fracture, a bone density test is the only way to diagnose the condition. Bone mineral density loss is also a risk factor for osteoporosis and Osteomalacia.

Fanconi Syndrome

In healthy kidneys, minerals and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream through proximal tubules. In patients with Fanconi Syndrome, the proximal tubules are unable to absorb nutrients, resulting in excess amounts of glucose, potassium and amino acids flushing out of the body through urine. Symptoms include excessive urination (often leading to dehydration), excessive thirst, bone pain, weakness and bone fractures.

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