What is gentamicin?
Gentamicin is an antibacterial prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of several infections caused by certain types of bacteria, such as meningitis, infection of the blood, and serious urinary tract infections.
Some bacterial infections can be opportunistic infections (OIs) of HIV. An OI is an infection 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 What is an Opportunistic Infection? fact sheet.
How is gentamicin 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 use of gentamicin to treat endocarditis (a type of heart infection) caused by the bacteria Bartonella (also called bartonellosis).
The recommended uses may not always be consistent with FDA-approved uses of gentamicin. See the Guidelines for complete information on recommended uses of gentamicin in adults and adolescents with HIV. Gentamicin may have other recommended uses not listed above.
What should I tell my health care provider before using gentamicin?
Before using gentamicin, tell your health care provider:
- If you are allergic to gentamicin, sulfites, or any other medicines.
- About any medical conditions you have or have had, including:
- Kidney problems
- Nerve or muscle disorders, such as myasthenia gravis or Parkinson’s disease
- Low magnesium, calcium, sodium or potassium
- About any health conditions that may prevent you from receiving medicine by injection or infusion.
- If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Aminoglycosides (the antibacterial drug class that gentamicin belongs to) can harm an unborn baby. Talk to your health care provider about the risks and benefits of using gentamicin 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 gentamicin during pregnancy. Please refer to these guidelines for additional information.
- If you are breast/chestfeeding or plan to breast/chestfeed. For people with HIV in the United States, the Guideline recommends speaking with your health care provider to discuss options for feeding your baby. People with suppressed viral load have a less than 1% chance of transmitting HIV to their baby via their own milk.
- About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Gentamicin may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how gentamicin works. Ask your health care provider if there are interactions between gentamicin and the other medicines you take.
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from gentamicin. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
How should I use gentamicin?
Use gentamicin according to your health care provider’s instructions. Your health care provider will tell you how much gentamicin to use and when to use it. Before you start gentamicin and each time you get a refill, read any printed information that comes with your medicine.
How should gentamicin be stored?
- Store vials of gentamicin injection solution at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
- Do not use gentamicin if the original seal over the container opening is broken or missing.
- Throw away gentamicin that is no longer needed or expired (out of date).
- Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
- Keep gentamicin and all medicines out of reach of children.
Where can I find more information about gentamicin?
- Recommendations on the HIV-related use(s) of gentamicin, from the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV.
- This Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Injection (solution).
- The American Hospital Formulary Service (AHFS) Patient Medication Information for gentamicin available from MedlinePlus.
- Gentamicin-related research studies, from ClinicalTrials.gov. (The ClinicalTrials.gov search can be modified so that you can get results that better match your interests. To learn more about ClinicalTrials.gov search features, please see How to Search.)
Last Reviewed: January 20, 2023