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(zīdō`vyo͞odēn'), drug used to treat patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIVHIV,
human immunodeficiency virus, either of two closely related retroviruses that invade T-helper lymphocytes and are responsible for AIDS. There are two types of HIV: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is responsible for the vast majority of AIDS in the United States.
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), which causes AIDSAIDS
or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,
fatal disease caused by a rapidly mutating retrovirus that attacks the immune system and leaves the victim vulnerable to infections, malignancies, and neurological disorders. It was first recognized as a disease in 1981.
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; also called azidothymidine. Originally developed in 1964 as an anticancer drug, AZT was never approved for that purpose. In 1984, Burroughs-Wellcome Company, which owned the rights to the drug, reexamined it as part of a search for any antiviral drugantiviral drug,
any of several drugs used to treat viral infections. The drugs act by interfering with a virus's ability to enter a host cell and replicate itself with the host cell's DNA.
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 that might be effective against the AIDS virus. It was approved by the FDA in 20 months, rather than the usual 8 to 10 years, in part for humanitarian reasons; thousands of people were dying of AIDS, no other treatment was forthcoming, and AIDS activists were lobbying heavily for approval.

AZT affects HIV's ability to reproduce by inhibiting the transcription of RNA to DNA. Although AZT can be helpful in the short term by promoting weight gain, decreasing the number of opportunistic infections, and improving T4 (CD4) lymphocyte counts (see immunityimmunity,
ability of an organism to resist disease by identifying and destroying foreign substances or organisms. Although all animals have some immune capabilities, little is known about nonmammalian immunity.
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), some researcher believe studies of its effectiveness to be flawed and regard the drug as too toxic for long-term use. There is also a question of whether it is helpful in HIV-positive, asymptomatic people. AZT does not cure or prevent AIDS, nor does it keep one from transmitting the virus to others, although some studies show that it does lessen the possibility that an HIV-infected mother will transmit the virus to her fetus.

Adverse effects include bone marrow depression, headache, nausea, muscle pain, and a reduction in the number of certain white blood cells. The risk of side effects increases when certain other drugs, including acetaminophenacetaminophen
, an analgesic and fever-reducing medicine. It is an active ingredient in many over-the-counter medicines, including Tylenol and Midol. Introduced in the early 1900s, acetaminophen is a coal tar derivative that acts by interfering with the synthesis of
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, are taken at the same time.

References in periodicals archive ?
83%) of the patients had Zidovudine induced anaemia, followed by anaemia of chronic disease seen in 11 patients (25.
According to IMS Health, Lamivudine and Zidovudine Tablets USP, 150 mg/300 mg, had US sales of about USD118.
0% for those treated with zidovudine monotherapy who had a planned cesarean; among untreated women, the transmission rate was 9%.
New research has shown improved efficacy with a regimen of single-dose nevirapine combined with a short course of zidovudine to both mothers and infants.
Approval of this additional dosage form of zidovudine," he says, "should help reduce the cost of this therapy for American patients.
A paper in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that zidovudine (Retrovir) reduces rates of perinatal transmission, even when used as an abbreviated regimen that is begun intrapartum or in the first 48 hours of life.
The researchers administered two daily antiviral drugs, zidovudine and lamivudine.
The preferred regimen based on protease inhibitors (PIs) calls for a combination of lopinavir/ritonavir (co-formulated as Kaletra) together with lamivudine and either zidovudine or stavudine.
The package insert for zidovudine states that "concomitant use of zidovudine with stavudine should be avoided since an antagonistic relationship has been demonstrated in vitro.
HIV-infected pregnant women were offered zidovudine from 36 weeks' gestation and during labor and free powdered infant formula for 12 months.
Prophylactic zidovudine after occupational exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus: an interim analysis.
For example, in a regimen including lamivudine, indinavir, nevirapine, and zidovudine, a specimen collected just before the morning dose reflects trough concentrations for all drugs (but zidovudine should be undetectable), and a specimen collected 2 h after dose would reflect peak concentrations except for nevirapine; nevirapine reaches peak concentration >4 h after dose.