Zidovudine, also known as azidothymidine, and therefore referred to as AZT, was manufactured many years ago as an anticancer, chemotherapeu-tic agent. It was too toxic for use and therefore never marketed. Wellcome, the pharmaceutical giant, discovered that AZT was detrimental to the human immunodeficiency virus .

In fact the initial trials suggested very little about its curative aspects and shortly after its release onto the market, it was suggested that if taken early patients would live longer and delay the onset of AIDS. There was evidence to support this but a more recent and conclusive study – the Concorde Trial – has shown this not to be the case and in fact early use of AZT may be detrimental in the long term.

The pharmaceutical industry are now suggesting that AZT in combination with other drugs such as didanosine and zalcitabine is everything they thought AZT was ten years ago. This time, they say, the combination is definitely delaying the onset of AIDS.

New groups known as protease inhibitors and nucleosides are coming forward and seem at this time to be as effective, if not more so, as AZT.

It is very difficult to elicit accurate figures concerning the effectiveness of AIDS drugs. Official reports vary from hospital to hospital but my personal experience and those of the holistic physicians with whom I work is that the majority of patients using AIDS drugs do not use them for long because of side effects and, on a more sinister note, the majority of AZT users do not do very well and have problems eventually.

Azidothymidine is highly toxic and may well be damaging to the immune system, which goes against the holistic view of AIDS and its treatment.