August 12, 2012
Antibiotics fight infections caused by bacteria. Azithromycin is used to fight opportunistic infections in people with HIV. Pfizer and Mack-Illert manufacture it.
Many germs live in our bodies or are common in our surroundings. A healthy immune system can fight them off or keep them under control. However, HIV infection can weaken the immune system. Infections that take advantage of weakened immune defenses are called "opportunistic infections." People with advanced HIV disease can get opportunistic infections. See Fact Sheet 500 for more information on Opportunistic Infections.
One opportunistic infection in people with HIV is MAC. This stands for Mycobacterium avium complex. See Fact Sheet 514 for more information on MAC. People who have a CD4 cell count of less than 50 may develop MAC.
Azithromycin is often used with another antibiotic to treat MAC. It can also be used to prevent MAC infection. If your CD4 cell count is below 50, talk to your health care provider about using azithromycin.
Some people are allergic to azithromycin and similar antibiotics. Be sure to tell your health care provider if you are allergic to erythromycin or other antibiotics.
For example, if you are taking azithromycin to fight MAC and you miss too many doses, the MAC in your body could develop resistance to azithromycin. Then you would have to take a different drug or combination of drugs to fight MAC.
The dose used to prevent MAC infection is 1,200 mg or 1,250 mg once a week.
Azithromycin tablets can be taken with or without food. Take it with plenty of water. The capsules or liquid should be taken on an empty stomach, either 1 hour before eating or 2 hours after eating. Be sure to check the instructions carefully.
Do not take azithromycin at the same time as antacids that contain aluminum or magnesium. They will reduce the amount of azithromycin in your blood.
Some people get a severe allergic reaction to azithromycin. Let your health care provider know immediately if you get severe diarrhea, fever, joint pain, serious stomach cramps or pain, swelling in your neck, mouth, hands and feet, or trouble breathing.
Antibiotics kill some helpful bacteria that normally live in the digestive system. You can eat yogurt or take supplements of acidophilus to replace them.
Antacids with aluminum or magnesium can lower blood levels of azithromycin. Do not take antacids at the same time as azithromycin.