Ziagen is approved for use in combination with other medications to treat HIV and AIDS. It works by blocking the multiplication process of the HIV virus. The medication comes in the form of tablets or an oral solution, and is typically taken once or twice a day. Possible side effects include nausea, headaches, and fatigue.
What Is Ziagen?Ziagen® (abacavir sulfate) is a prescription medication that is used as a treatment for HIV and AIDS. It is only approved for use in combination with other HIV medications.
How Does Ziagen Work?Ziagen belongs to a group of HIV medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). These drugs 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 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 by using a special protein called the reverse transcriptase enzyme. To create DNA, this enzyme uses several different molecular building-blocks.
Ziagen works by tricking reverse transcriptase into thinking it is one of these building blocks. However, it is just different enough that when used to create DNA, Ziagen actually stops the DNA from being made. Without DNA, HIV cannot multiply.
Keep in mind that this medication is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. Although Ziagen can help stop HIV from infecting healthy cells in the body, it does not help cells that have already been infected with the virus.