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Drug Dosing Toolkit: AZT

for Veterans and the Public

Retrovir, zidovudine, ZDV (AZT)

Type of Drug: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitor

Nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors were the first type of drug available to treat HIV. They are also known as NRTIs, nucleoside analogues, or "nukes."

When the HIV virus enters a healthy cell, it attempts to make copies of itself. It does this by using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. NRTIs block that enzyme, so HIV cannot make new copies of itself.

Bring a printout of this page to discuss with your doctor during your next visit. List your questions at the bottom of the page.

Approved adult dosing

one 300 mg tablet AZT two times a day

  • Morning
    Retrovir 300

    AZT 300 mg

  • Evening
    Retrovir 300

    AZT 300 mg

Notes on taking this medication

  • Because of the possibility of serious side effects, AZT is not recommended for treatment of HIV; if you are taking AZT, please talk with your clinician about changing to a different medication
  • No food restrictions, can take with or without food
  • Persons with kidney problems may need an adjustment of their dose of AZT

Possible side effects

  • Nausea; stomach discomfort; headache
  • Symptoms of anemia (low red blood cell count): fatigue; shortness of breath
  • More rarely: muscle wasting; neutropenia (low white blood cell count)
  • Changes in body-fat distribution

See accompanying chart: Tips for Common Side Effects

This drug is also found in the following combination pills

  • AZT + lamivudine (Combivir)
  • AZT + abacavir + lamivudine (Trizivir)


Disclaimer: This information is not meant to substitute for advice from your medical provider or pharmacist. If you have any questions about your medication dosing, talk to your medical provider or pharmacist.