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Lamivudine (or 3TC) is one of our earliest NRTIs, and is still a popular component of many combinations. Available on it's own or coformulated in Kivexa, Trizivir and Combivir it is often used in people starting treatment for the first time, and is also used in Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) in combination with one or more other HIV treatments.

Lamivudine plus zidovudine remains as the preferred option for pregnant women.  This dual-NRTI has the most safety and efficacy data for both mother and newborn.

Lamivudine is also active against hepatitis B.

Basic info

Generic name lamivudine
Brand name 3TC
Also known as Epivir (US)
Drug class Nucleoside/Nucleotide Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Pediatric dosing? Available in doses suitable for children and/or young people.
Availability in Australia Available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) through S100 prescribers since 1996
This drug may be available through clinical trials in Australia.
You may be able to import this drug from overseas for your personal use.
Formulation 150mg tablet; 300mg tablet; 10mg/mL, 240 mL oral solution; 5mg/mL, 240 mL oral solution;

Taking it

Like most anti-HIV drugs, lamivudine must be taken in combination with other drugs to be completely effective. Commonly, lamivudine is combined with one other nucleoside (NRTI) drug and either a protease inhibitor or non-nucleoside, although other combinations are sometimes used. Your doctor will advise you on the right combination of drugs to suit your circumstances.


The normal adult dose for the treatment of HIV is one 150mg tablet taken twice a day or one 300mg tablet taken once a day.

Lamivudine is also able to be given in liquid form and/or in lower doses for younger people.

Regardless of what you read on this website or elsewhere, you should always take your medications according to your doctor's instructions. If you're unsure, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

With or without food

lamivudine may be taken with or without food

Side effect

All drugs can produce side effects in some people. These may be mild, moderate or severe, so you should be aware of potential side effects before starting any drug, and speak to your doctor if you experience side effects that concern you.

Interactions with other drugs

3TC should not be taken with intravenous foscarnet (Foscavir) or ganciclovir (Cymevene). People taking 3TC with hepatitis C treatments (interferon alfa or ribavirin) should be monitored for possible side effects such as liver problems. Tell your doctor(s) and pharmacists about all medicines and supplements that you are taking.