ARVs for women and men

By Juliet Awuor

So, the other day we were chatting with colleagues about being transgender. The conversation progressed to how transgender individuals use female ARVs to enlarge their hips. Now, that was interesting. I haven’t heard of ARVs meant for women and men. I sought to correct the misconception with the fact that I have volunteered at a Comprehensive Care Centre- HIV clinic before.

Of course, in such cases, you are careful not to appear to know so much on ARVs lest your colleague starts putting two and two together. I quickly mentioned that there’s an ARV drug that does not support a foetus is Stocrin or Efavirenz. She told me that the specifications have since changed. That I needed to check my facts. I let the matter rest because I may have been wrong.

I haven’t used Efavirenz before. In fact, I have been refusing to have doctors change me to the regime because the one I currently am on has been perfect for me for the last decade or so. Why fix something that’s not broken?

Anyway, one of the reasons I have been avoiding it is because should I get pregnant, I would have to be switched back to a more friendlier regime for pregnancy. Now a girl has to dream. I still have dreams of becoming a mother again. 

During my last clinic appointment, I was told by the doctor that the drug I am currently using, AZT is being faced out. The only information I have found is Stavudine being faced out.

Efavirenz is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor. These drugs stop HIV from multiplying by preventing the reverse transcriptase enzyme from working. The most common side effects are fatigue, rash, nausea, dizziness, diarrhoea, headache, and insomnia. Pregnant women should avoid taking it, especially during the first three months of pregnancy. However, recent studies have shown no increase in birth defects in pregnant women taking efavirenz. This is probably why my colleague concluded that there are ARVs for women and men.

There are no ARVs for women. Some ARVs are just not suitable for pregnant mothers. It is important to get your facts straight. The argument that transgender individuals take ARVs to broaden their hips also does not hold water. They take female hormones but this is another story altogether.

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