Lower-cost generic availableClass: Infection

Retrovir 

(zidovudine, azt, or zdv)

Lower-cost generic availableClass: Infection
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Works with other medicines to treat HIV infection. Also prevents mother-to-child sharing of HIV.

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Our bottom line

AZT can be a good second-line choice to take within the Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NRTI) drug class. AZT can have a number of serious side effects, but if you don't have prior blood, kidney, or liver problems, you should consider it.

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Upsides

  • AZT is provided as capsules, tablets, and syrup.
  • Used in kids and babies.
  • Take AZT with or without food.
  • AZT is included in the combination drugs Trizivir (AZT, Epivir, and Ziagen) and Combivir (AZT and Epivir), both of which are taken twice a day.

Downsides

  • AZT may cause serious blood, muscle, and liver problems.
  • Poor kidney function will affect how much AZT you can take.
  • Allergies to AZT are rare, but very serious.
  • Need to get regular blood tests.
How it works

AZT stops the replication of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) within important cells of the body by preventing the virus from taking over normal functions of the cell for its own purposes.

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Side effect rates for Retrovir (zidovudine, azt, or zdv)

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These are side effects of Retrovir (zidovudine, azt, or zdv) reported to the FDA by people taking it, and by doctors and pharmacists.
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Risks and Warnings for Retrovir (zidovudine, azt, or zdv)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Advanced HIV
    • Anemia
    • Neutropenia

    AZT can cause serious changes to your blood and bone marrow. Frequent blood counts are strongly recommended for people who have previously had low bone marrow levels of granulocytes. For people with early HIV disease, periodic blood counts are recommended. If anemia or neutropenia develops, dosage changes may be needed.

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Common concerns from people taking Retrovir (zidovudine, azt, or zdv)

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Pregnancy
Food
  • Take AZT with or without food.
Kidneys and liver
  • Poor kidney function will affect how much AZT you can take.
  • AZT can cause this rare but life-threatening condition. Symptoms include deep and rapid breathing, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain. This is a medical emergency and you should get help right away. Baseline blood work for kidney and liver function are helpful to see if you can use AZT. It may not be a good choice for people with liver problems.
Pain
  • Combining certain medications can increase the risk of muscle pain (myopathy), muscle damage (rhabdomyolysis), and kidney damage. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist when taking any new medications.