What is azithromycin?
Azithromycin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S.(FDA) for the treatment of certain bacterial infections, such as:
- Various bacterial respiratory diseases, including community-acquired , acute sinus and ear infections, acute worsening of chronic bronchitis, and throat and tonsil infections
- Infections of the skin
Community-acquired pneumonia, a bacterial respiratory disease, can be an opportunistic infection (OI) of HIV. An OI is an What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as people with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems. To learn more about OIs, read the HIVinfo
How is azithromycin used in people with HIV?
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV include recommendations on the uses of azithromycin in people with HIV to:
- Community-acquired pneumonia
- Toxoplasma gondii (also called )
- Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) disease
- Bacterial infections, including and
- Certain Bartonella infections (also called ), such as infections of the bloodstream (bacteremia) and bone (osteomyelitis)
- Disseminated MAC disease from occurring the first time and from recurring
What should I tell my health care provider before taking azithromycin?
Before taking azithromycin, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to azithromycin or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, including the following:
- Cystic fibrosis
- A problem that causes muscle weakness (myasthenia gravis)
- A known or suspected bacteremia (bacterial infection in the blood)
- An irregular heartbeat, especially a problem called "QT prolongation"
- Kidney or problems
- About anything that could affect your ability to take medicines, such as difficulty swallowing pills, difficulty remembering to take pills, or any health conditions that may prevent your use of medicines.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of taking azithromycin during pregnancy. The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV may include other recommendations on the use of azithromycin during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. For women with HIV in the United States, the Guideline does not recommend breastfeeding. Before your baby is born, or if you are already breastfeeding, talk to your health care provider to discuss alternative options for feeding your baby.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Azithromycin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how azithromycin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between azithromycin and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from azithromycin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I take azithromycin?
Take azithromycin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much azithromycin to take and when to take it. Before you start azithromycin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should azithromycin be stored?
- Store vials of azithromycin for injection below 86°F (30°C). Once the injection powder in the vial has been reconstituted with sterile water and diluted, it is stable for 24 hours at or below 86°F (30°C), or for 7 days if refrigerated at 41°F (5°C).
- Store azithromycin dry powder for oral suspension below 86°F (30°C). After mixing, store the suspension between 41°F to 86°F (5°C to 30°C). Keep the oral suspension in a tightly closed container.
- Store azithromycin tablets between 59°F and 86°F (15°C to 30°C).
- Do not use azithromycin if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away azithromycin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep azithromycin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about azithromycin?
- Recommendations on the HIV-related uses of azithromycin, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV, prepared by the , the , and the HIV Medicine Association of the Diseases Society of America.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Injection (powder, lyophilized, for solution); Powder (for suspension), tablet (film coated).
- Azithromycin-related research studies, from
Last Reviewed: December 9, 2020