Taking it

Zidovudine (AZT, Retrovir) may be taken twice or three times a day. Most people generally find twice daily regimens easier to manage.

The daily dose is 500 or 600mg. Zidovudine is usually taken as one 250mg capsule twice a day, but 100mg capsules are also available for dose variations. A reduced dose of 200mg twice a day may also be safe and effective in patients with low body weight of less than 60kg.1 A 300mg capsule has been discontinued in the United Kingdom due to low demand.

Zidovudine is also available as a syrup and as a solution for infusion into a vein. Both of these are at the concentration of 10mg/ml.

Zidovudine may be taken with or without food. However, to achieve maximum zidovudine levels in the body the drug should be taken on an empty stomach, although this is not essential. It is important to take the drug as prescribed in order to maintain the right level of the drug in the blood. If blood levels of the drug fall too low, this will allow the development of resistance to zidovudine and may affect future treatment options.

People with low white blood cell counts or haemoglobin levels should not take zidovudine. Patients with severe kidney problems should take a reduced dose of zidovudine.


  1. Cressey TR et al. Intensive pharmacokinetics of zidovudine 200 mg twice daily in HIV-1 infected patients weighing less than 60kg on highly active antiretroviral therapy. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr 42: 387-388, 2006
Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.