Zidovudine is used together with other medicines to treat viral infection for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. HIV infection can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
This medicine is also used to prevent HIV-positive mothers from passing HIV to the unborn baby. It is also given to newborn babies of HIV-positive mothers to reduce the risk of the baby developing HIV.
Zidovudine is not a cure for HIV. It only helps to keep the virus in check and can help improve the quality of life. It does not prevent the spread of disease to other people.
Take Zidovudine exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
You may take this medicine with or without food. Try to take it at the same time each day.
If you are taking capsules or tablets, swallow it whole with a glass of water.
If you are taking an oral solution, shake the bottle well before you take it to ensure that the liquid is evenly mixed. Use the measuring spoon or cup provided to measure your dose.
Zidovudine is given together with other anti-HIV medicines. It is only one part of a HIV treatment programme and must be taken together with other anti-HIV medicines. Ensure that you take all your medicines exactly as directed by the doctor.
This medicine should be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue to take it even when you feel better.
Do not skip any doses. You must complete the entire course. If you don't, the infection will not be adequately treated.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Alert your doctor if you have any blood disorders (e.g. low red and white blood cell count) as Zidovudine may not be suitable for you.
If your baby is being treated with Zidovudine, alert the doctor if the baby appears jaundiced. The most obvious signs of jaundice are yellowish skin and yellowish whites of the eyes.
Alert your doctor if you ever had an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, severe rash, swollen eyes) to this medicine.
Inform your doctor if you have any of these conditions:
- kidney disease
- liver disease
- osteonecrosis (loss of blood flow to the bones)
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Inform your doctor if you are breastfeeding. It is best that you do not breastfeed as HIV passes into the breast milk. Avoid breastfeeding in order to reduce the risk of passing HIV to your baby. It is recommended to give your baby commercial infant formula provided that you have access to clean water and facilities.
Zidovudine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. It only helps to slow down the development of HIV infection.
This medicine does not reduce your risk of passing the HIV infection to others through sexual contact or through contamination with infected blood. Ensure that you use proper precautions to avoid spreading the HIV infection to others.
Both Zidovudine and HIV may weaken your immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick to minimise the risk of catching an infection. While undergoing treatment, you may develop other infections or experience other health problems related to your HIV infection. Always keep your doctor updated on your condition and go for your appointed check-ups.
While being treated with this medicine you will need to have regular blood tests. These blood tests help your doctor to monitor your condition and also to check if your blood counts are normal. Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these blood tests.
Zidovudine may make you dizzy. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.
Other side effects include any of the following: headache, fever, rash, cough, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, indigestion, stomach pain, constipation, weight loss, weakness, muscle and joint pain, difficulty sleeping and loss of appetite.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, generally feeling unwell, rapid breathing and muscle weakness affecting your movements
- chest pain
- fever with persistent sore throat or mouth ulcers, unusual bleeding or bruising
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- ribavirin and alpha interferon (medicines used to treat hepatitis C)
- probenecid (a gout medicine)
- medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. phenytoin, carbamazepine
- medicines to treat malaria e.g. atovaquone, pyrimethamine
- medicines to treat protozoal infection e.g. pentamidine
- medicines for acne e.g. dapsone
- antibiotics e.g. co-trimoxazole, clarithromycin
- medicines to treat fungal infections e.g. amphotericin, flucytosine
- other medicines to treat viral infections e.g. ganciclovir, acyclovir, valaciclovir
- medicines for cancer e.g. vincristine, vinblastine, doxorubicin
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Zidovudine.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
If you have been given Zidovudine syrup, throw it away 1 month after you open it.