How does lamivudine and zidovudine prevent HIV infection?

Lamivudine-zidovudine prevents human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in the same way that it treats an established HIV infection. Its two component drugs, lamivudine and zidovudine, block the action of reverse transcriptase, which is an enzyme that the HIV requires to replicate. If initiated immediately after exposure, treatment may prevent the virus from establishing itself as an infection. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis. For mild HIV exposures, lamivudine-zidovudine alone may be sufficient to prevent HIV infection. In exposures considered serious, at least one more drug should be added. Serious exposures include situations when the person is exposed to a large volume of blood, the blood is from a person with a high quantity of virus in their blood, or the blood enters through open sores or a needle puncture.

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