AZT (Zidovudine)

AZT

AZT or zidovudine (zīdō´vyōōdēn´), drug used to treat patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS; also called azidothymidine. Originally developed in 1964 as an anticancer drug, AZT was never approved for that purpose. In 1984, Burroughs-Wellcome Company, which owned the rights to the drug, reexamined it as part of a search for any antiviral drug that might be effective against the AIDS virus. It was approved by the FDA in 20 months, rather than the usual 8 to 10 years, in part for humanitarian reasons; thousands of people were dying of AIDS, no other treatment was forthcoming, and AIDS activists were lobbying heavily for approval.

AZT affects HIV's ability to reproduce by inhibiting the transcription of RNA to DNA. Although AZT can be helpful in the short term by promoting weight gain, decreasing the number of opportunistic infections, and improving T4 (CD4) lymphocyte counts (see immunity), some researcher believe studies of its effectiveness to be flawed and regard the drug as too toxic for long-term use. There is also a question of whether it is helpful in HIV-positive, asymptomatic people. AZT does not cure or prevent AIDS, nor does it keep one from transmitting the virus to others, although some studies show that it does lessen the possibility that an HIV-infected mother will transmit the virus to her fetus.

Adverse effects include bone marrow depression, headache, nausea, muscle pain, and a reduction in the number of certain white blood cells. The risk of side effects increases when certain other drugs, including acetaminophen, are taken at the same time.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

AIDS and HIV-Related Diseases: An Educational Guide for Professionals and the Public
Josh Powell.
Insight Books, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Zidovudine" begins on p. 119
The Catastrophe Ahead: AIDS and the Case for a New Public Policy
William B. Johnston; Kevin R. Hopkins; G. A. Keyworth.
Praeger, 1990
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of AZT (Zidovudine) begins on p. 111
AIDS Doctors: Voices from the Epidemic
Ronald Bayer; Gerald M. Oppenheimer.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of AZT (Zidovudine) begins on p. 129
The AIDS Crisis: A Documentary History
Douglas A. Feldman; Julia Wang Miller.
Greenwood Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: "Document 61: Pregnant Women and AZT" begins on p. 70
Plague Doctors: Responding to the AIDS Epidemic in France and America
Jamie L. Feldman.
Bergin & Garvey, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Includes discussion of AZT (Zidovudine) in multiple chapters
Notions of HIV and Medication among Multiethnic People Living with HIV
Oggins, Jean.
Health and Social Work, Vol. 28, No. 1, February 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
AIDS in the UK: The Making of a Policy, 1981-1994
Virginia Berridge.
Oxford University, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of AZT (Zidovudine) begins on p. 182
AIDS Prevention and Services: Community Based Research
Johannes P. Van Vugt.
Bergin & Garvey, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "The Community Research Initiative (CRI) of New York: Clinical Research and Prevention Treatments"
Imagine Hope: AIDS and Gay Identity
Simon Watney.
Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 20 "Concorde"
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