Compare Retrovir vs. Zerit

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Works with other drugs to treat HIV infection or prevents transmission to your baby.

Retrovir (zidovudine) is not the first choice to treat HIV because of its side effects.

Works with other medicines to treat HIV infection.

Within the Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor (NRTI) drug class, stavudine can be a difficult drug to take. stavudine has numerous serious side effects and probably won't be your first choice.

  • Retrovir (zidovudine) is safe and effective for children and infants.
  • Retrovir (zidovudine) is available in several single-pill combination tablets so you don't need to take as many pills.
  • stavudine is provided as both capsules and an oral solution.
  • Take with or without food.
  • Can be used by patients on dialysis.
  • While stavudine doesn’t cure HIV, it does reduce the number of viral copies being made in your blood, giving your healthy immune cells (CD4 cells) a better chance to do their job.
  • Retrovir (zidovudine) can cause serious blood, muscle, and liver problems.
  • Many people experience nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and headache when taking Retrovir (zidovudine).
  • Taking Retrovir (zidovudine) can raise your cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • Must take twice a day, every 12 hours.
  • The amount of stavudine you will take is based on your body weight, kidney, and liver function.
  • Interacts with many different medications.
  • May cause serious side effects in your liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
  • Can cause significant tingling in your hands or feet.
Used for
  • HIV infection
  • Prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission
  • HIV Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP)
  • HIV infection
Dosage forms
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
No pricing information available
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Side effects
12possible side effects
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Skin rashes
  • Enlarged liver
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nasal discharge or congestion
  • Wheezing
  • Pain in the ear
  • Swelling of the mouth
  • Enlarged spleen
See more detailed side effects
The Zerit (Stavudine) FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.
Risks and risk factors
  • Blood and bone marrow problems
    • Advanced HIV
    • Anemia
    • Neutropenia
  • Muscle and kidney damage
    • Extended use of Retrovir (zidovudine)
  • Acid build-up in the blood
    • Liver disease
    • Women
    • Obesity
  • Fat redistribution
    • HIV treatment
  • Immune reconstitution syndrome
    • HIV
    • Exposure to other infections
    • Start of a new HIV medication
    • Change in HIV therapy
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Lactic acidosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Liver damage
    • Use of hydroxyurea, didanosine, and stavudine together
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Immune reconstitution syndrome
    • HIV
    • Exposure to other infections
    • Start of a new HIV medication
    • Change in HIV therapy
  • Fat Redistribution
    • HIV treatment
See more detailed risks and warnings