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You are here : 3-RX.com > Drugs & Medications > Quick Drug Information (DrugNotes) > Zidovudine (Injection)

Zidovudine (Injection)

Zidovudine (zye-DOE-vyoo-deen)

Treats human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Also used during childbirth to keep the mother from passing HIV to her baby. Zidovudine does not cure HIV or AIDS, but may slow the progress of the disease.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to zidovudine. You should not use this medicine if you are also using any combination medicines that also contain zidovudine (Combivir® or Trizivir®).

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine. It may also be given by a home health caregiver.
  • You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.
  • Never share your medicine with anyone.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • If you store this medicine at home, keep it at room temperature, away from heat and direct light.
  • Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using dapsone, doxorubicin (Adriamycin®, Doxil®, Rubex®), flucytosine (Ancobon®), ganciclovir (Cytovene®, Vitrasert®), interferon alfa (Roferon-A®, Intron A®, Wellferon®, Alferon N®, Infergen®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), probenecid (Benemid®), ribavirin (Rebetron®, Virazole®), stavudine (Zerit®), valproic acid (Depakene®), vinblastine (Velban®), or vincristine (Oncovin®).
Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have liver or kidney disease.
  • Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • You should not breastfeed if you have HIV or AIDS, because you may give the infection to your baby through your breast milk.
  • This medicine will not keep you from giving HIV to your partner during sex. Make sure you understand and practice safe sex, even if your partner also has HIV. Do not share needles with anyone.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in face or hands, swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat, tightness in chest, trouble breathing
  • Extreme muscle weakness, tiredness, or confusion
  • Fever, chills, cough, mouth sores
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Rapid breathing or trouble breathing, nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, sweating, fast heartbeat
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Changes in the color of your skin, fingernails, or toenails
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild nausea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands, arms, legs, or feet
If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor.

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