A healthcare provider may prescribe Zerit in combination with other medications to treat HIV and AIDS. While the drug cannot cure HIV or AIDS, it can prevent the HIV virus from multiplying and infecting healthy cells. The medicine comes in the form of capsules and as an oral solution, and is typically taken twice a day. Side effects may include diarrhea, headaches, and nausea, among others.
What Is Zerit?Zerit® (stavudine) is a prescription AIDS and HIV medication. It is approved only to be combined with other medications for the treatment of HIV. It is not approved to be used alone.
How Does Zerit Work?Zerit is part of a group of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTI medications work by blocking a process that the HIV virus needs in order to multiply.
HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus) is the virus that is responsible for AIDS. Like other viruses, HIV must use a person's own cells to reproduce. However, HIV is different than other viruses because it must first convert its genetic material from RNA to DNA. It is the DNA genes that allow HIV to multiply.
HIV converts its genetic material into DNA by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building blocks.
Zerit 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, Zerit actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
Zerit is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. Although it can help stop HIV from infecting uninfected cells in the body, it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.