VariZIG is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for reducing the severity of varicella zoster virus (VZV) infections (chicken pox infections) in high-risk people who have been exposed to the virus. This is called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Examples of high-risk people include premature infants, adults with no immunity to VZV, and immunocompromised children and adults. (Immunocompromised means a person’s immune system cannot fight infections normally.) When high-risk people without immunity to VZV are exposed to the virus, they can experience severe and sometimes fatal infections.
VariZIG is made from blood plasma of healthy, screened human donors. Plasma is the fluid part of the blood that contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies (a type of protein that the immune system makes), and other proteins. VariZIG contains high levels of antibodies that can fight against VZV.
VZV infection is an opportunistic infection. An opportunistic infection is an infection that occurs more frequently or is more severe in people with weakened immune systems—such as those infected with HIV—than in people with healthy immune systems.
The Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents, prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA-HIVMA), includes recommendations on the use of VariZIG for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) of VZV in HIV-infected individuals.
The above paragraph may not include all of the HIV-related uses of VariZIG recommended in the Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections in HIV-Infected Adults and Adolescents. Some recommended uses, such as uses in certain rare circumstances, may have been omitted.
Before receiving VariZIG, tell your health care provider:
Ask your health care provider about possible side effects from VariZIG. Your health care provider will tell you what to do if you have side effects.
A health care provider gives VariZIG as an injection. VariZIG is given as soon as possible after exposure to VZV, ideally within 96 hours of exposure for the greatest effectiveness. One dose of VariZIG is injected into a muscle in the upper arm or upper thigh. A second dose of VariZIG may be given to someone who has had additional exposures to VZV more than 3 weeks after the initial dose. Read any printed information that your health care provider gives you about VariZIG.
More information about VariZIG is available:
Last Reviewed: June 14, 2015