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What Is Zalcitabine Used For?

Zalcitabine is used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS in adults and adolescents (age 13 and older). Although the drug cannot cure HIV and AIDS, it can help prevent the HIV virus from multiplying and infecting uninfected cells. On occasion, healthcare providers may prescribe zalcitabine off-label to prevent HIV infection in people who have come into contact with the HIV virus.

What Is Zalcitabine Used For?

(This medication is no longer available. This medication was not discontinued for safety reasons. The manufacturer of zalcitabine chose to stop making it because current HIV treatment guidelines recommended using newer medications, rather than zalcitabine.)


Zalcitabine (Hivid®) is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of AIDS and HIV infection. Zalcitabine belongs to a group of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (also known as NRTIs).
AIDS is short for "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome." AIDS was first reported in the United States in 1981. Since then, it has become a significant, worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Initially, an HIV infection does not usually cause any obvious symptoms (see HIV Symptoms). However, by killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, HIV will eventually begin to progressively destroy the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers (see AIDS Symptoms).
HIV is often spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. HIV transmission also happens through contact with infected blood, which frequently occurs among IV drug users (who share needles or syringes contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus). Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
Zalcitabine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. In fact, there is currently no known cure for HIV or AIDS. Also, zalcitabine is not intended to be used alone. Instead, it is used as part of an HIV "cocktail." These cocktails usually consist of three or four (or sometimes even five) different HIV medications (technically known as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, or HAART). Using a combination of medications helps to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs.

Zalcitabine Drug Information

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