Fluconazole (Diflucan)

Fluconazole (Diflucan) is an approved anti-fungal drug. It works by inhibiting the synthesis of ergosterol, a main component in the fungal cell membrane.

Fluconazole is manufactured by Pfizer, but alternative generic versions are available in some countries. Fluconazole is available in capsules, a liquid for intravenous infusion or a solution to be drunk.

Fluconazole is licensed for treating candidiasis and cryptococcal meningitis, and for preventing recurrences of cryptococcal meningitis after treatment.1 It is also active in HIV-positive adults and children.2 3 4 Fluconazole is also being tested as a treatment or prophylaxis for other fungal diseases such as aspergillosis, coccidioidomycosis and histoplasmosis.

Resistance to fluconazole can occur, particularly in people with more advanced HIV infection. In these cases, alternative anti-fungal drugs such as itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral) may be used.

People who are starting fluconazole treatment for candidiasis or meningitis are usually recommended to start with a higher loading dose of 400mg daily before reducing the dose to the standard 200mg daily.5 The dose of fluconazole should be reduced in people who have kidney impairment.

Fluconazole’s commonest side-effect is upset stomach. In rare cases, it can also cause clinically important, even fatal liver inflammation. Skin rashes have also been reported, primarily in people taking fluconazole at the same time as several other drugs. Other occasional side-effects include nausea and vomiting, headache, seizures, Stevens-Johnson syndrome and hair loss.6

Fluconazole causes an approximate doubling of nevirapine (Viramune) levels, increasing the risk of liver toxicity. Nevirapine does not affect fluconazole levels.7 Fluconazole also increases the blood levels of tipranavir (Aptivus).8 Does of more than 200mg fluconazole are not recommended in patients taking tipranavir.


  1. Powderly WG et al. A randomized trial comparing fluconazole with clotrimazole troches for the prevention of fungal infections in patients with advanced human immunodeficiency virus infection. N Engl J Med 332: 700-705, 1995
  2. Plettenberg A et al. Fluconazole therapy of oral candidiasis in HIV-infected patients: results of a multicentre study. Infection 22: 118-123, 1994
  3. Marriott D et al. Fluconazole once a week as a secondary prophylaxis against oropharyngeal candidiasis in HIV-infected patients. Med J Aust 158: 312-316, 1993
  4. Marchisio P et al. Treatment of oropharyngeal candidiasis in HIV-infected children with oral fluconazole. Multicentre Study Group. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 13: 338-340, 1994
  5. Manfredi R et al. Role of fluconazole in the management of AIDS-related cryptococcosis, according to daily dosing. Chemotherapy 44: 206-214, 1998
  6. Pappas PG et al. Alopecia associated with fluconazole therapy. Ann Intern Med 123: 354-357, 1995
  7. Geel J et al. Effect of fluconazole on nevirapine pharmacokinetics. 15th International AIDS Conference, Bangkok, abstract TuPeB4606, 2004
  8. van Heeswijk R et al. The effect of tipranavir / ritonavir 500 / 200 mg bid (TPV / r) on the pharmacokinetics of fluconazole in healthy volunteers. Fifth International Workshop on the Clinical Pharmacology of HIV Therapy, Rome, abstract 4.8, 2004

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.