Cabenuva (cabotegravir/rilpivirine) is a brand-name intramuscular injection used to treat HIV in adults and certain children. As with other drugs, Cabenuva can cause side effects, such as headache, fatigue, and nausea.

Cabenuva can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. However, if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who received Cabenuva in clinical trials:

Mild side effects can occur with Cabenuva use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to the Cabenuva prescribing information.

Mild side effects that have been reported with Cabenuva include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • skin rash
  • muscle or bone pain
  • injection site reactions (see “Side effect specifics” below)

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. However, if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews the side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect during Cabenuva treatment and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

Cabenuva may cause serious side effects, but they aren’t common. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to the drug’s prescribing information.

If you develop serious side effects with Cabenuva treatment, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects that have been reported and their symptoms include:

  • post-injection reactions (side effects that occur within minutes after your injection), which may include symptoms such as:
  • liver problems, which may include symptoms such as:
  • depression or other mood changes (see “Mood disorders” in the “Side effect specifics” section below)
ALLERGIC REACTION

For some people, Cabenuva injection can cause an allergic reaction.

In general, symptoms of allergic reaction can be mild or serious. You can learn more about possible symptoms in this article.

Ways to manage

For mild allergic reaction symptoms, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may recommend treatments to help manage your symptoms. They’ll also let you know whether you should continue receiving this medication.

For severe allergic reaction symptoms, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms require immediate medical care because they can become life threatening. If you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Cabenuva, your doctor may recommend a different medication instead.

Cabenuva may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

Does Cabenuva cause long-term side effects?

It’s possible. Cabenuva may cause liver problems that may continue long term, even after treatment stops.

But the more common side effects reported in clinical trials of Cabenuva are generally short term. To learn more, see “More common side effects of Cabenuva” above.

If you have questions about the long-term side effects of Cabenuva, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How do side effects of Cabenuva compare with those seen with Biktarvy?

Cabenuva and Biktarvy can both cause mild and serious side effects. Some side effects of these drugs are the same, and others are different. This is because these drugs have different active ingredients and come in different forms.

Some mild side effects these drugs have in common include headache, skin rash, and difficulty sleeping. Other side effects differ due to the form of the drug and other factors. Cabenuva is given as an intramuscular injection. Side effects may include injection site reactions, muscle pain, and fever. Biktarvy, which is an oral tablet, can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and indigestion.

Serious side effects these drugs have in common include liver problems and depression or other mood disorders. See “Serious side effects of Cabenuva” to learn more. Serious side effects of Biktarvy include kidney problems and lactic acidosis.

This doesn’t include all the side effects that may occur with Cabenuva or Biktarvy. Talk with your doctor if you have questions about Cabenuva versus Biktarvy side effects.

How long do side effects of Cabenuva last?

Most side effects of Cabenuva are mild and will typically go away within days to weeks as your body adjusts to the drug. But, certain side effects, such as injection site reactions or post-injection reactions, can occur after each injection.

Still, injection site reactions are usually mild and will go away on their own in a few days. (Learn more in the “Side effect specifics” section just below.)

Post-injection reactions, which may be mild or serious, can occur within minutes of receiving your Cabenuva dose. However, the symptoms typically don’t last long and usually go away within minutes of starting. For more information, see the “Serious side effects” section above.

Talk with your doctor if you have more questions about how long the side effects of Cabenuva may last.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Cabenuva may cause. To find out how often side effects occurred in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Cabenuva.

Injection site reactions

Cabenuva is given as an injection into the gluteal (buttocks) muscle by a healthcare professional. Injection site reactions were a common side effect reported in clinical trials of the drug.

Symptoms of an injection site reaction occur around the area where you receive your injection. They may include:

  • swelling or lumps under the skin
  • discomfort or pain
  • skin redness or discoloration
  • skin thickening or hardness
  • bruising
  • itching

What you can do

Injection site reactions typically will go away on their own. If the symptoms are uncomfortable, you can take steps to help relieve them. For example, applying a cold compress may help reduce swelling, itching, and pain.

In addition, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to help reduce pain and inflammation.

Talk with your doctor if you experience injection site reactions that get worse over time instead of better.

Mood disorders

Some people may experience depression, other mood disorders, or even thoughts of suicide with Cabenuva. This was a rare but serious side effect in the drug’s clinical trials.

Symptoms of depression or other mood changes may include:

  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities or hobbies
  • feeling sad or hopeless
  • decreased energy
  • changes in sleep
  • anxiety
  • difficulty concentrating
  • thoughts of death or suicide

What you can do

Tell your doctor if you have depression or a history of any mental health conditions before starting therapy with Cabenuva.

If you or anyone around you notices signs of depression or mood changes, talk with your doctor right away. They may want to monitor you more closely or may recommend a different treatment for you. In some cases, they may recommend that you see a mental health professional.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects if it’s safe to do so.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Find more links and local resources.

Was this helpful?

Before taking Cabenuva, discuss your health history with your doctor. Cabenuva may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. Be sure to talk with your doctor if any of the following apply to you:

  • history of liver problems, including hepatitis B or hepatitis C
  • history of mental health conditions (see “Side effect specifics” above)
  • previous allergic reaction to this or a similar drug
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding

If you’d like information about HIV and its treatments, explore our HIV & AIDS hub.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.