Combivir is a combination medication used in the treatment of HIV infection or AIDS. By combining two different HIV medications -- lamivudine and zidovudine -- the drug is more effective than when just one of these drugs is used alone. It works by preventing the HIV virus from multiplying. Possible side effects of Combivir include headaches, nausea, and fatigue.
As mentioned, Combivir contains two different HIV medications: lamivudine and zidovudine. Both of these belong to a group of HIV medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These medicines work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that causes AIDS. Like other viruses, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is a little different from other viruses because it must first convert its genetic material from RNA to DNA. It is the DNA genes that allow HIV to multiply. The virus converts its genetic material by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building blocks.
Combivir 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, Combivir actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
Combivir is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. It can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body, but it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Combivir [package insert]. Research Triangle Park, NC: GlaxoSmithKline;2011 November.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed May 25, 2012.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
eMedTV serves only as an informational resource. This site does not dispense medical advice or advice of any kind.
Site users seeking medical advice about their specific situation should consult with their own physician. Click