Zerit Warnings and Precautions

To help ensure a safe treatment process, it is important to be aware of Zerit warnings and precautions before taking the medication. Prior to starting Zerit, let your healthcare provider know if you have any allergies or kidney or liver disease. It is also important to understand that Zerit may cause potentially dangerous conditions, such as lactic acidosis, hepatic steatosis, and pancreatitis.

Zerit: What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?

You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking Zerit® (stavudine) if you have:
  • Liver disease, such as liver failure, cirrhosis, or hepatitis
  • Kidney disease, including kidney failure (renal failure)
  • Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
  • Breastfeeding.
You should also be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medicines you are taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Precautions and Warnings for Zerit

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking Zerit include the following:
  • Rarely, Zerit can cause lactic acidosis and hepatic steatosis. These conditions are caused by damage to the liver and can be very dangerous. You are at a higher risk for these conditions if you already have liver disease.
  • Zerit can cause inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis), which can be very dangerous. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you have any signs of pancreatitis, such as:


    • A tender or swollen abdomen (stomach)
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Fever
    • A rapid heart rate (tachycardia)
    • Rapid breathing. 


  • Zerit can cause nerve problems (known as peripheral neuropathy). Often, these nerve problems cause unusual sensations, such as numbness, burning, or tingling.
  • The kidneys help remove Zerit from the body. If you have kidney disease, your healthcare provider may need to monitor you more closely and may need to lower your Zerit dosage.
  • Zerit can change the distribution of fat on your body. You may gain fat in areas that are not typical for you, such as in the abdomen or at the back of the neck (a "buffalo hump"), and you may lose weight in other areas.
  • Zerit is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS, you should always use safer sex practices, regardless of whether you are taking medications.
  • As with all HIV medications, it is important that you take Zerit exactly as prescribed. Missing doses may increase the chance of the virus becoming resistant to HIV medications.
  • Zerit can interact with a few different medications (see Zerit Drug Interactions for more information).


  • When you first start taking this medication and your immune system begins to recover, a group of problems known as immune reconstitution syndrome may occur. Your immune system may start aggressively reacting to any infections you may have and may cause extreme inflammation. There have even been cases of autoimmune disorders (such as Graves' disease, polymyositis, and Guillain-Barré syndrome) possibly caused by this problem. 


  • Zerit is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that Zerit may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not known (see Zerit and Pregnancy).
  • It is not known if Zerit passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Zerit and Breastfeeding). It is important to understand that the HIV virus can be transmitted through breast milk and that breastfeeding is usually not recommended in women with HIV or AIDS.

Zerit Drug Information

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