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DDC (2,3-Dideoxycytidine)

Although there is no cure or useful vaccine for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), a number of drugs have been developed and approved since the 1980s to treat the infection and the related condition known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). These retroviral medications fall into three basic categories: protease inhibitors, nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, and non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

A nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor commonly utilized in HIV treatment is 2,3-dideoxycytidine, typically abbreviated DDC or ddC. The medication, which is also known by the trade names Zalcitabine and Hivid, can help slow the destruction of the human immune system by blocking HIV reverse transcriptase during the early stage of viral replication through attachment to the enzyme. Thus, production of new HIV within the body is prevented by interference with DNA replication in viral cells, resulting in a subsequent decrease in the bodily amount of the virus. However, HIV can rapidly become resistant to the effect of any single antiretroviral medication, and, therefore, DDC is usually utilized as part of a combination treatment, rather than as a sole form of therapy.

Similar to other HIV/AIDS drugs, DDC treatment is often associated with a number of side effects. Among the most commonly encountered are nausea, abdominal pain, tingling in the extremities, burning sensations, joint pain, and numbness. Many of these and other less common side effects result from mitochondrial toxicity and peripheral neuropathy of the DDC metabolites. Nevertheless, the side effects connected with the drug are generally considered mild in comparison to the outcome of receiving no treatment, which is usually a more rapid deterioration of the immune system and subsequent death. When utilized with other antiretroviral drugs, side effects experienced by patients tend to amplify, but so do the benefits of the pharmaceutical therapy.


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