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Understanding How Zalcitabine Works and Treatment Tips

How Does Zalcitabine Work?

Zalcitabine belongs to group of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTI medications work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that is responsible for AIDS. Like other viruses, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is different than 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 into DNA by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building blocks.
Zalcitabine 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, zalcitabine actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
Zalcitabine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. Although it can help stop HIV from infecting uninfected cells in the body, it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.

When and How to Take Zalcitabine

Some general considerations for when and how to take zalcitabine include the following:
  • Zalcitabine comes in the form of a tablet. It is usually taken by mouth every eight hours (three times a day).
  • Zalcitabine is best absorbed into your body if you take it on an empty stomach (at least one hour before or two hours after eating).
  • Try to take zalcitabine at the same times every day, to maintain an even level of the medication in your blood.
  • For the medication to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed. It is very important that you closely follow your healthcare provider's instructions for taking zalcitabine. Missing doses can increase the chance of the virus developing a resistance to zalcitabine (making it less effective).

Zalcitabine Drug Information

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