Is Modafinil Effective In Treating Fatigue In HIV Patients?

What is modafinil and how is it related to HIV?

Modafinil is a psychostimulant with wakefulness-promoting effects that is used to treat excessive drowsiness caused by narcolepsy, sleep apnea, or shift work disorder in adults. Modafinil works by affecting the brain’s neurotransmitters. Apart from its recognized usage, this medication, sold under the brand name Provigil, is also used as a nootropic and has been labeled the safest smart drug.

Modafinil has been shown to have cognitive benefits such as improved memory and focus, as well as increased energy and motivation. But how does any of this connect to HIV? I’m sure you’re wondering. To discover an answer, let’s first learn about HIV and then establish the connection in the following sections.

What is HIV ?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus which when enters the body attacks the immune system, which is responsible for fighting infections and diseases. Despite the fact that HIV is incurable, it is certainly treatable. There are medications that can help people with HIV  live a long and healthy life and prevent AIDS symptoms (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome), which is the final stage of HIV infection in which the virus completely destroys the immune system, causing the body to become infected with multiple life-threatening infections. If HIV is treated properly, not everyone with the virus will get AIDS.

It is now even possible to safeguard and prevent oneself from contracting HIV if one is aware of the risks. People who believe they have been exposed to the virus or have a probability of becoming infected utilize Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to protect themselves. Gilead Sciences’ Truvada was the first HIV-prevention drug to be authorized by the FDA. PrEP is provided by the national healthcare systems in many countries and where it is not accessible, people buy PrEP online. Truvada being exorbitantly priced, many HIV patients buy Truvada generic online.

Why do HIV people experience fatigue?

HIV can cause fatigue, although clinical researchers aren’t sure why but few probable reasons have been associated with it. As it is known that HIV is a long term chronic disease and the simple presence of a virus causes the body to exert a strong immune response which constantly requires energy. Even low-level inflammation induced by HIV can consume a lot of energy where the viral load is undetectable. T lymphocytes, commonly known as T cells, are immune cells that assist the body fight infection and sickness. HIV attacks and takes over these cells. HIV makes copies of itself in those T cells by utilising a lot of energy from the body. This suggests that fatigue may occur as a result of the body’s efforts to combat HIV treatment.

Side effects of HIV medication can also be a reason for fatigue because few medications have been seen to cause sleeplessness which in turn causes fatigue in patients.

Modafinil for HIV patients

Even when the health is largely stable or improved by antiretroviral treatment, fatigue remains a key issue for many people living with HIV treatment . Fatigue is linked to disability and worse life satisfaction in HIV and AIDS patients, and it is a significant hurdle for those considering returning to work. While fatigue was formerly attributed to the virus and associated infections, it now appears that the otherwise life-prolonging antiretroviral also play a role.

Medications such as dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate have been proven to be responsive for fatigue in HIV patients however due to the risks of dependency and abuse associated with these medications clinical researchers have proposed modafinil to be a safer alternative effective for the treatment of fatigue after conducting several studies.

In one such 4 week placebo controlled open label trial study, 115 HIV and AIDS patients were randomized which was followed by an 8 week additional study for modafinil responders. The fatigue response rate to modafinil was 73 percent, while the placebo response rate was 28 percent. 9% of the subjects did not continue with the trial. At Week 4, CD4 cell counts remained unchanged, but HIV RNA viral load decreased considerably in modafinil-treated individuals but not in placebo-treated patients. Patients who were still using modafinil after 6 months had greater energy and less depressive symptoms than those who were not, and only those who were still taking modafinil had a substantial decrease in their HIV RNA viral load from baseline.


As a result, several studies have demonstrated that modafinil is effective in reducing fatigue symptoms in HIV treatment patients, as well as improving depressive symptoms and executive functioning. Patients with HIV and AIDS who want to combat fatigue should speak with a doctor about modafinil. You can easily buy modafinil online if your doctor recommends it.

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