Zidovudine is used together with other anti-viral medicines to slow down the progression of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection.
This medicine is used to prevent HIV-positive mothers from passing HIV to the unborn baby. It is also given to new born babies of an HIV-positive mothers to help reduce the risk of the baby from getting infected with HIV.
Zidovudine is to be given intravenously (into the vein). It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Zidovudine.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
Alert your doctor if you ever had an allergic reaction (rashes, breathlessness, swollen eyes) to Zidovudine.
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- anaemia (low red blood cell count)
- neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
as Zidovudine may not be suitable for you.
Inform your doctor if you have kidney or liver disease.
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
It is best that you do not breastfeed as HIV infection 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 does not reduce your risk of passing 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 or those who are sick to minimise the risk of catching an infection. While undergoing treatment, you may develop other infections or experience other health problems. Always keep your doctor updated on your condition.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly. You may need to have routine blood tests (e.g. liver function test, cholesterol or blood sugar level, amount of HIV in a blood sample) while you are being treated with this medicine. Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
Zidovudine may cause dizziness. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert.
Other common side effects include any of the following: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea,
stomach pain, and muscle pain.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, with loss of appetite, feeling unwell, rapid breathing, and muscle weakness
- unusual tiredness, breathing problems, weakness, pale skin or fast heartbeat (signs of anaemia)
- signs of an infection such as fever, chills, persistent cough, flu-like symptoms, breathlessness or sore throat (signs of neutropenia)
- yellowing of the skin and white of your eyes
- fat accumulation around the neck, abdomen or chest
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:
- other medicines for viral infections e.g. ganciclovir, aciclovir,
- medicines for malaria e.g. atovaquone
- medicines for epilepsy (fits and seizures) e.g. phenytoin, valproic acid
- medicines for fungal infection e.g. fluconazole, amphotericin
- medicines for bacterial infections e.g. rifampicin, clartihromycin
- medicines for gout e.g. probenecid
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 below 30 °C. Keep away from the reach of children.
If you notice that the injection has changed colour or has become cloudy, do not use it.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As this is a hazardous medicine, always return any unused or expired medicine to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.