Birth Definitions

Retrovir Definition


Retrovir (azidothymidine or AZT) is a prescription medication that has zidovudine as an active ingredient, used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in adults and children. HIV is the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Retrovir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. 

Retrovir belongs to a class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It works by blocking the activity of reverse transcriptase, an enzyme needed for the HIV virus to multiply. This decreases the amount of HIV in the body and helps to boost the immune system. 

This is used during pregnancy and after childbirth to help prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV. When used with other antiretroviral drugs, the risk for vertical transmission (from mother to child) can be reduced to less than 2%.

Side Effects of Retrovir

Common side effects of Retrovir include:

  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • stomach pain,
  • diarrhea,
  • weakness,
  • tired feeling,
  • headache, 
  • joint or muscle pain, or 
  • skin rash.

More serious side effects include:

  • pancreatitis,
  • liver problems,
  • bone marrow suppression, or
  • build-up of lactic acid in the blood.

Retrovir can also cause a severe reaction called hypersensitivity syndrome. Symptoms include:

  • fever, 
  • rash, 
  •  nausea, 
  • vomiting, 
  • diarrhea, 
  • stomach pain,  
  • low blood pressure, and 
  • liver damage.

This image shows how often the term ‘Retrovir’ is used in relation to other, similar birth terms:

Other Related Terms

Some terms closely associated with Retrovir are: human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), and vertical transmission.

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