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Sustiva (generically known as efavirenz) is a medication used to treat HIV-1 infection in combination with other antiretroviral drugs. It belongs to a class of drugs known as non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), which work by inhibiting the reverse transcriptase enzyme required by HIV to replicate.

Sustiva is often used in combination therapy with other antiretroviral drugs, such as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) or protease inhibitors, to help suppress the virus and slow down the progression of HIV disease.

Uses and Dosage

Efavirenz is available in the form of a 600 mg capsule to be taken orally on an empty stomach, without food, once daily at bedtime or as prescribed by your doctor. Taking Efavirenz with food may increase the blood levels of this medication, which could raise the risk of certain side effects.

Swallow the capsule in its entirety with water. If you have trouble swallowing the capsule, it can be opened and mixed gently with a small amount (1 to 2 teaspoons) of soft food, such as applesauce, grape jelly, or yogurt. Then, add two more teaspoons of food to the empty mixing container, and swallow the remaining mixture within 30 minutes of mixing. Do not eat any food for at least 2 hours after taking Efavirenz.

To achieve optimal results, take Efavirenz at evenly spaced intervals. Your doctor's prescription should be strictly followed, without skipping any doses, taking the drug more often than prescribed or stopping taking it (or any other HIV medicines) even for a short time unless directed to do so by your doctor. Any change in the dose, unless approved by your doctor, may result in the amount of virus increasing, the infection becoming more difficult to treat (resistant), or worsened side effects.

Side Effect

Common Side Effects of Sustiva (Efavirenz):

  • Changes in the shape or location of body fat (especially in your arms, legs, face, neck, breasts, and waist)
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Strange dreams
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Vomiting

Serious Side Effects of Sustiva (Efavirenz):

  • Anxiety
  • Burning eyes
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Cold sores
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Dark urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling sad or hopeless
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Hives
  • Impotence
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Menstrual changes
  • Night sweats
  • Seizure
  • Skin pain
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unusual behavior
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

Form and Strength

Sustiva (Efavirenz) is available in the following forms and strength:

Sustiva: Capsule

  • 200 mg
  • 600 mg

Efavirenz: Capsule 

  • 600 mg


  • Mental health effects: Sustiva has been associated with psychiatric symptoms such as nightmares, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
  • Liver problems: Sustiva can cause liver problems in some people, especially if they already have liver disease or are taking other medications that affect the liver.
  • Severe skin reactions: Sustiva can cause severe skin reactions, such as Stevens - Johnson syndrome, which can be life-threatening.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Sustiva may harm an unborn baby and can pass into breast milk, so it should be used with caution in pregnant or breastfeeding women.
  • Drug interactions: Sustiva may interact with other medications, including herbal supplements, discuss all medications and supplements with your healthcare provider to avoid potential interactions.
  • Drug resistance: Sustiva, like other antiretroviral medications, can lead to the development of drug resistance if it is not taken consistently or if the virus mutates to become resistant to the medication.
  • Driving or operating machinery: Sustiva can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and trouble concentrating, so it is important to avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how the medication affects you.
  • Kidney problems: Sustiva can cause kidney problems in some people, especially if they already have kidney disease or are taking other medications that affect the kidneys.
  • Immune reconstitution syndrome: Sustiva, when used as part of combination antiretroviral therapy, can lead to immune reconstitution syndrome, a condition in which the immune system begins to attack the body's own cells.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How soon can I eat before or after taking efavirenz (Sustiva)?

You should try to leave 2 hours between your dose of efavirenz (Sustiva) and your meals.

Does efavirenz (Sustiva) cause weight gain?

No, people do not usually gain weight while taking efavirenz (Sustiva).

What drug classification is Sustiva?

Sustiva is a prescription medicine used to treat the symptoms of HIV Infection. Sustiva may be used alone or with other medications. Sustiva belongs to a class of drugs called HIV, NNRTIs.


Additional information

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Capsule, Tablet


200mg, 600mg

Quantities Available:

30, 90


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Online Pharmacies Canada has provided information from third parties intended to increase awareness and does not contain all the information about Sustiva (Efavirenz). Talk to your doctor or other qualified medical practitioners for medical attention or advice, or if you have any concerns about Sustiva (Efavirenz).