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Retrovir is an antiviral medication used to treat HIV.

Zidovudine is a synthetic nucleoside analogue that inhibits aspects of your DNA to prevent the growth and spread of HIV cells. By inhibiting both reverse transcriptase and cellular DNA polymerases, Retrovir helps slow the spread of HIV to prevent it from developing into acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Uses and Dosage

The dose of Retrovir that is prescribed will vary depending on the individual and severity of their HIV virus being treated. Follow all your doctor’s instructions and read packaging labels carefully to ensure the best results during treatment with zidovudine.

  • Swallow capsules whole
  • Take with or without food
  • Most adults are recommended to take 600mg divided daily
  • Adults can take three 100mg capsules twice daily or two 100mg capsules three times a day
  • Children weighing 4 to 9kg should take 24mg/kg divided into two or three doses each day
  • Children weighing 9 to 30kg should take 18mg/kg divided daily
  • Children over 30kg should take 600mg divided daily like adults
  • Pregnant women should take 100mg 5 times each day until the start of labor
  • Store at room temperature away from children and pets

Side Effects

Retrovir may cause some side effects to develop while preventing the spread of HIV cells in your body. Speak with your doctor for more information regarding any symptoms that you may encounter when using zidovudine.

Common Retrovir side effects:

  • Headache
  • Fever, ill-feeling
  • Cough
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite
  • Loss of body fat

Serious Side Effects

Some more serious adverse reactions may occur when taking zidovudine. Stop using Retrovir and call your doctor if you develop any of the following side effects:

  • Lactic acidosis (unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, stomach pain, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, feeling cold, feeling weak or tired)
  • Low blood cell counts (fever, chills, tiredness, mouth sores, skin sores, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, pale skin, cold hands and feet, lightheadedness, shortness of breath)
  • Liver problems (bloating, upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-coloured stool, jaundice)
  • Signs of an infection (fever, night sweats, swollen glands, cold sores cough, wheezing, diarrhea, weight loss)
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Balance problems
  • Weakness or prickly feeling
  • Swelling in neck or throat
  • Menstrual changes
  • impotence

Allergic Reactions

Do not use Retrovir if you are allergic to zidovudine or any of the other capsule ingredients. If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction, stop taking this HIV medication and contact your doctor right away.

Retrovir allergy symptoms may include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in face or throat
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Burning eyes
  • Skin pain
  • Red or purple rash
  • Blistering and peeling skin


To ensure your safety when taking Retrovir, tell your doctor if you have ever had any of the following:

  • Kidney disease
  • Muscle problems
  • Bone marrow suppression
  • Low red blood cell count
  • If you drink large amounts of alcohol

Retrovir may cause your levels of infection fighting blood cells to decrease which can leave you susceptible to illness and infections. Low blood cell counts can also affect your body’s ability to circulate oxygen.

Zidovudine can affect your liver function which may be serious or life-threatening. Call your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms: fever, flu-like symptoms, tiredness, mouth sores, pale skin, cold hands and feet, upper stomach pain, dark urine, or jaundice.

Retrovir may cause an increase of lactic acid in your blood which can develop into the dangerous condition known as lactic acidosis. Your risk may be increased if you have other underlying conditions, if you have taken HIV medication long-term, or if you are a woman. Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following: unusual muscle pain, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeat, dizziness, vomiting, if you feel cold, tiredness, or if you feel weak.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant and use Retrovir exactly as directed to ensure that you manage your infection. HIV can pass to your baby if untreated during pregnancy.

Do not breastfeed if you have HIV or AIDS because the virus can pass through your breastmilk to your nursing child.

Some other drugs may interact with zidovudine and cause adverse reactions. Tell your doctor about all the medications that you take, including over the counter medicines, but especially any of the following:

  • Doxorubicin
  • Ribavirin
  • Stavudine
  • Other medicines that contain zidovudine
  • Bone marrow suppressive drugs
  • Clarithromycin
  • Fluconazole
  • Ganciclovir
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Lamivudine
  • Methadone
  • Phenytoin
  • Probenecid
  • Ribavarin
  • Valproic acid

Form and Strength

This HIV medication is available in capsule form.

Retrovir capsule strengths:

  • 100mg
  • 300mg

The 100mg Retrovir capsules are available in quantities of 100 while the 300mg capsules are available in quantities of 60 and 120.


Is Retrovir taken with meals?

You can take your doses of Retrovir with or without food. Most adults take 600mg daily divided into two or three doses. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely to ensure the best results from your zidovudine treatment.

What are the side effects of Retrovir?

The most common side effects that are reported by users of Retrovir include headache, fever, ill-feeling, cough, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and loss of body fat. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns regarding symptoms that you may encounter during your treatment with zidovudine.



Additional information

Brand Name:


Scientific Name:


Other Names:

Retrovir, Zidovir


100mg, 300mg

Quantities Available:

60, 100, 120