The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the human body. It is located behind the lower right section of your ribs and carries out numerous functions that your body requires to remain healthy. These are just a few of the liver's many functions:
- Storing important nutrients from the food that you eat.
- Building necessary chemicals that your body needs to stay healthy.
- Breaking down harmful substances, like alcohol and other toxic chemicals.
- Removing waste products from your blood.
For HIV-positive people, the liver is of major importance, as it is responsible for making new proteins needed by the immune system, helps the body to resist infection, and processes many of the drugs used to treat HIV and AIDS-related infections. Unfortunately, these same medications can also damage the liver, which can prevent the liver from performing all of its necessary tasks and can eventually cause damage to the liver.
"Hepatotoxicity" is the official term for liver damage caused by medications and other chemicals. This lesson has been prepared by the AIDSmeds.com staff to help readers better understand hepatotoxicity, including the ways in which medications can cause liver damage, the factors that can increase the risk of hepatotoxicity, and some of the ways in which you can monitor and protect the health of your liver. If you have questions or concerns about hepatotoxicity, particularly as it relates to the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs you are taking, do not be afraid to discuss them with your doctor.