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Understanding How Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine Works and Safety Concerns

Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine if you have:
 
  • Anemia, neutropenia, or any other low blood count or blood disorder
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure or cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease, such as kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
     
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
 
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
 
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
 

How Does Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine Work?

Abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine contains three different HIV/AIDS medications. All three of these medications belong to a group of HIV medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
 
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. Like other viruses, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is a little different from other viruses because it must first convert its genetic material from RNA to DNA. It is the DNA genes that allow HIV to multiply.
 
HIV converts its genetic material by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building blocks.
 
Abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine works by tricking reverse transcriptase into thinking it is one of these molecular building blocks. However, it is just different enough that when used to create DNA, abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
 
Abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. It can help stop HIV from infecting uninfected cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
 

Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine for HIV

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