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Is It a Common Reaction to Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine or an Allergic Reaction?

Common Side Effects of Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine

Abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine has been thoroughly studied in clinical trials. In most clinical trials, the medication is compared to a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredient) in order to see if it causes more side effects. However, medications used to treat life-threatening conditions (such as HIV or AIDS) cannot be compared to a placebo, since it would be unethical to not treat people with such conditions.
In these clinical trials, the most common abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine side effects included:
  • Nausea -- in up to 19 percent of people
  • Headaches -- up to 13 percent
  • Fatigue and a general ill feeling (malaise) -- up to 12 percent
  • Vomiting with nausea -- up to 10 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 7 percent
  • Fever and/or chills -- up to 6 percent.
Other common side effects (each occurring in 5 percent of people) included:
  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Ear, nose, or throat infections
  • Viral respiratory infections (such as the common cold).

Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine and Allergic Reactions

Abacavir (one of the components of abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine) can cause very serious (sometimes life-threatening) allergic reactions. However, some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction to abacavir are common and may not actually be due to an allergic reaction.
In order to help people know if a serious allergic reaction is occurring, the manufacturer of abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine has developed a system involving groups of symptoms. It is recommended that you stop taking abacavir/lamivudine/zidovudine and call your healthcare provider immediately if you develop symptoms from two or more of the following groups of symptoms:
  • Group 1 -- Fever
  • Group 2 -- Rash
  • Group 3 -- Nausea, vomiting diarrhea, or abdominal pain (stomach pain)
  • Group 4 -- Extreme fatigue, a general ill feeling (malaise), or achiness
  • Group 5 -- Shortness of breath, cough, or a sore throat.


People with a certain gene known as HLA-B*5701 are much more likely to have such reactions to this medication. It is recommended that you be tested for this gene before starting this medication or before restarting it (even if you did not have problems in the past).
In general, this medication is not recommended for people with this gene. It should be noted that serious allergic reactions can still occur in people that do not have this gene. 


Abacavir/Lamivudine/Zidovudine for HIV

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