PDR Health


What is Retrovir?

Retrovir is a type of medicine called an antiviral. It is used to treat infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Retrovir belongs to a class of drugs known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It works by blocking the activity of an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. This enzyme is needed by HIV in order to produce more viruses. By blocking the activity of this enzyme, Retrovir reduces the amount of HIV in the body and keeps it at a low level. This helps to reduce the risk of developing AIDS or other HIV-related illnesses.


Health Benefits

Retrovir is used in combination with other antiviral medicines to treat HIV infection. It is usually given to people who have not been treated for HIV before, or who have been treated but their HIV infection has come back.

When used in combination with other antiviral medicines, Retrovir can:

– reduce the amount of HIV in the body and keep it at a low level

– improve the immune system

– reduce the risk of developing AIDS or other HIV-related illnesses

Side Effects

Retrovir can cause side effects in some people.

Common side effects include:

– headache

– diarrhea

– nausea and vomiting

– tiredness and fatigue

– rash

– fever

– muscle pain

These side effects are usually mild and temporary. They should improve with time. If they persist or become bothersome, please talk to your doctor or pharmacist.


Retrovir should not be taken with certain other medications because interactions can occur. These include certain antacids, HIV protease inhibitors, and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. Be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.


The recommended dose of Retrovir varies depending on body weight, the type of HIV infection, and other factors. The usual starting dose is 300 mg twice daily. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on your individual needs.

Retrovir is available as a tablet or an oral solution (liquid). It is usually taken two or three times daily. The tablets can be taken with or without food, but the oral solution must be taken with food.

If you miss a dose of Retrovir, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at the same time.


Retrovir is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract and reaches peak plasma concentrations within 2 to 4 hours. The bioavailability of the oral solution is lower than that of the tablet, but both formulations are bioequivalent.

Retrovir is widely distributed throughout the body and crosses the blood-brain barrier. It is bound to plasma proteins to a greater extent than other NRTIs.

Retrovir is metabolized in the liver by multiple pathways, including phosphorylation, deamination, and oxidation. These metabolites are excreted primarily in the urine. The elimination half-life of Retrovir ranges from 1 to 5 hours.

Alternatives to RetroVir

Other antiviral medications used to treat HIV include:

– atazanavir (Reyataz)

– darunavir (Prezista)

– efavirenz (Sustiva)

– etravirine (Intelence)

– nevirapine (Viramune)

– raltegravir (Isentress)

Your doctor can help you choose the best medication for your needs.