What Is Zidovudine Used For?
Zidovudine is used for treating HIV and AIDS in both adults and children as young as three months old. It is also approved to help prevent the transmission of HIV from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child. Off-label zidovudine uses may include the treatment of thrombocytopenia in people with HIV and T-cell lymphoma or leukemia.
Zidovudine (Retrovir®) is a prescription medication used to treat HIV infection and AIDS. It belongs to a group of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs).
AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) was first reported in the United States in 1981 and has since become a major worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Initially, HIV usually causes no obvious symptoms (see HIV Symptoms). However, by killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, the virus will eventually begin to progressively destroy the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers (see AIDS Symptoms).
HIV is commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. Transmission also happens through contact with infected blood, which frequently occurs among IV drug users (who share needles or syringes contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus). Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
Zidovudine was the first medication approved as a treatment for HIV and AIDS. Many people refer to it as "AZT," since it was once known as azidothymidine. It is also known as "ZDV," which is short for zidovudine. Generally, the medication is not used alone; instead, it is used as part of an HIV "cocktail." These cocktails consist of three or four different HIV medications (technically known as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy, or HAART). In fact, the active ingredient of zidovudine is available in two different combination medications: Combivir® and Trizivir®. Using combinations of medications helps to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs.
Zidovudine is approved to be used in combination with other HIV medications to treat HIV infection (including AIDS). It is also approved to help prevent the transmission of the virus from an infected pregnant mother to her baby.