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SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for

1

Emtricitabine/tenofovir is an oral drug used in combination with other drugs to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It’s also used to prevent infection in high-risk people.

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Side effects can include diarrhea, nausea, and rash.

4

If you take this drug to prevent HIV (pre-exposure prophylaxis [PrEP]), you’ll need quarterly blood tests to make sure it’s working.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA Warning

This drug has a Black Box Warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients to potentially dangerous effects.

May cause lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis is a severe change in the body’s chemical balance. In this condition, lactic acid builds up in your blood and the amount of oxygen in your blood drops. This can cause nausea and weakness. If you have these symptoms in addition to swelling or enlargement of your abdomen, see a doctor right away. Some cases of lactic acidosis have been serious or fatal.

Hepatitis B virus infection. If you take this drug and then stop taking it, your hepatitis B virus infection can become much more severe. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor your liver function for several months after you stop taking this drug.

Kidney disease

This drug is filtered by your kidneys. Kidney disease can cause the drug to build up in your body, which increases your chance of side effects. This drug might also damage the kidneys. If you have reduced kidney function, you may need a different dose. If you have kidney disease, make sure you talk to your doctor before starting this drug.

Reduced bone density

Taking this drug could increase your risk of reduced bone mineral density. This may increase your risk of broken bones. Your doctor may recommend supplements, such as calcium or vitamin D, and schedule you for bone scans before and during treatment.

Immune reconstitution syndrome

In this condition, your recovering immune system responds to infections you had in the past to return. Examples of past infections include fungal infections, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Your doctor may need to re-treat the infection if this happens. Watch for returning symptoms of past infections.

What is emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate?

Emtricitabine/tenofovir is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral tablet.

Emtricitabine/tenofovir is a combination of two drugs in a single form. It's important to know when you're taking a combination drug because each of its parts might have unique traits.

If you’re taking emtricitabine/tenofovir to treat HIV infection, it will be used as part of a combination drug therapy. You’ll need to take at least one other drug.

Why it's used

Emtricitabine/tenofovir is combined with at least one other recommended HIV drug to treat HIV infection.

It can also be used on its own to help prevent HIV infection in high-risk people. This is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

How it works

For treating HIV infection, emtricitabine/tenofovir blocks an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. HIV needs this enzyme to make copies of itself. When emtricitabine/tenofovir blocks this enzyme, HIV isn’t able to make copies and spread as quickly.

More Details

How it works

For treating HIV infection, emtricitabine/tenofovir blocks an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. HIV needs this enzyme to make copies of itself. When emtricitabine/tenofovir blocks this enzyme, HIV isn’t able to make copies and spread as quickly.

This medication must be combined with at least one other antiretroviral drug to control HIV infection.

For prevention HIV infection, emtricitabine/tenofovir blocks the enzyme when you’re exposed to HIV. This blocks HIV from being able to infect your body. However, this drug isn’t always able to prevent you from getting HIV. It should be used with other methods, such as condoms, to reduce your risk of infection.

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SECTION 2 of 4

Side Effects

Most Common Side Effects

The most common side effects that occur with emtricitabine/tenofovir include:

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • abdominal pain

  • weight loss

  • fatigue

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • depression

  • insomnia

  • abnormal dreams

  • rash

Serious Side Effects

If you experience any of these serious side effects, call your doctor right away. If your symptoms are potentially life threatening, or if you think you’re experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

  • lactic acidosis. Symptoms may include:

    • nausea
    • weakness
    • swelling or enlargement of your abdomen
  • worsened hepatitis B virus infection.

  • immune reconstitution syndrome. In this condition, your recovering immune system responds to infections you had in the past to return. Examples of past infections include fungal infections, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. Watch for returning symptoms of your past infections, such as:

    • dark-colored urine
    • decreased appetite
    • fatigue
    • yellowing of your skin
    • nausea
    • abdominal tenderness
  • reduced bone density

  • kidney damage

  • fat redistribution syndrome. This causes changes in the distribution of body fat, such as an increasing amount of fat on your neck and back.

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Emtricitabine/tenofovir does not cause drowsiness.

Common side effects should decrease over time. If they don’t go away or are bothersome, call your doctor.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

May Interact with Other Medications

This medication can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. That’s why your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. If you’re curious about how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: You can reduce your chances of drug interactions by having all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. That way, a pharmacist can check for possible drug interactions.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Hepatitis B drug

Do not take this drug with emtricitabine/tenofovir: 

  • adefovir (Hepsera)

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) drugs

Do not take these drugs with emtricitabine/tenofovir:

  • efavirenz/emtricitabine/tenofovir (Atripla)
  • rilpivirine/emtricitabine/tenofovir) (Complera)
  • emtricitabine (Emtriva)
  • elvitegravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir (Stribild)
  • tenofovir (Viread)
  • atazanavir (Reyataz) combined with ritonavir (Norvir)
  • darunavir (Prezista) combined with ritonavir (Norvir)
  • didanosine (Videx)
  • lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra)

Antibiotic
  • gentamicin

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

If you take NSAIDs at high doses while taking emtricitabine/tenofovir, you increase your risk of kidney disease. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this interaction to learn about using NSAIDs safely. 

NSAIDs include:

  • aspirin
  • diclofenac
  • ibuprofen
  • ketoprofen
  • meloxicam
  • nabumetone
  • naproxen
  • piroxicam
  • salsalate

Antiviral drugs, drugs to treat herpes
  • acyclovir  
  • cidofovir (Vistide, an intravenous drug for cytomegalovirus)
  • ganciclovir (Cytovene, an intravenous drug)
  • valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • valganciclovir  (Valcyte)

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
hepatitis B
People with hepatitis B

If you take this drug and then stop taking it, your hepatitis B virus infection can become much more severe. Your healthcare provider may need to monitor your liver function for several months. You may also need treatment for your hepatitis B.

kidney disease
People with kidney disease

This drug is filtered by your kidneys. Kidney disease can cause it to build up in your body and increase your chance of side effects. This drug might also damage your kidneys. Taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen can increase your risk of kidney disease. Be sure to tell your doctor about all the drugs you take before starting this drug.

pregnant woman
Pregnant women

This medication is a pregnancy category B drug. That means two things:

  1. Studies of the drug in pregnant animals have not shown risk to the fetus.
  2. There aren’t enough studies done in pregnant women to show if the drug poses a risk to the fetus. 

Because the studies in humans can’t rule out the possibility of harm, this medication should only be used during pregnancy if it’s clearly needed.

If you’re taking this medication to prevent HIV infection and you become pregnant, talk to your doctor to decide whether to continue taking it. Your risk of HIV infection goes up during pregnancy.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It’s not recommended to breastfeed while taking this drug.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you shouldn’t breastfeed if you have HIV. There is a risk of passing HIV to your baby. Additionally, emtricitabine and tenofovir are passed through breast milk. If you breastfeed, your baby could become resistant to these drugs. This could make it more difficult to treat your child if they develop HIV infection.

seniors
For seniors

People older than age 65 years often have reduced kidney function. If you’re an older adult, you could have trouble processing this drug. Your doctor may evaluate your kidney function before starting this drug. You may need to take the two drug ingredients individually, which allows more dosing flexibility.

children
For children

This drug is approved for children who weigh at least 17 kg. Children who weigh less should not take it.

telephone
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if you experience: 

  • fever
  • weakness
  • chills
  • night sweats
  • sore throat
  • joint pain

These symptoms may be a sign the drug isn’t working, and you may need a different treatment.

allergies
Allergies

Severe allergies to this drug aren’t common. Call your doctor right away if you experience: 

  • severe or sudden rash
  • welts
  • fever
  • trouble breathing
SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take (Dosage)

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What Are You Taking This Medication For?

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection

Brand: Truvada

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir, 167 mg emtricitabine/ 250 mg tenofovir, 133 mg emtricitabine /200 mg tenofovir, 100 mg emtricitabine /150 mg tenofovir
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

One tablet (200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir) per day.

Child dosage (children who weigh at least 35 kg)

One tablet (200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir) per day.

Child dosage (children who weigh at least 17 kg but less than 35 kg)

One low strength tablet (167 mg emtricitabine/250 mg tenofovir, 133 mg emtricitabine/200 mg tenofovir, or 100 mg emtricitabine/150 mg tenofovir based on body weight) per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage based on your body weight.

Child dosage (children who weigh less than 17 kg)

Dosage for people who weigh less than 17 kg has not been established.

Special considerations

Kidney Disease: If you have kidney disease or reduced kidney function, you may need a different dosing schedule or may need different treatment.

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention

Brand: Truvada

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir, 167 mg emtricitabine/ 250 mg tenofovir, 133 mg emtricitabine /200 mg tenofovir, 100 mg emtricitabine /150 mg tenofovir
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

One tablet (200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir) per day.

Child dosage (children who weigh at least 35 kg)

One tablet (200 mg emtricitabine/ 300 mg tenofovir) per day.

Child dosage (children who weigh at least 17 kg but less than 35 kg)

One low strength tablet (167 mg emtricitabine/250 mg tenofovir, 133 mg emtricitabine/200 mg tenofovir, or 100 mg emtricitabine/150 mg tenofovir based on body weight) per day. Your doctor will decide your dosage based on your body weight.

Child dosage (children who weigh less than 17 kg)

Dosage for people who weigh less than 17 kg has not been established.

Special considerations

Kidney Disease: If you have kidney disease or reduced kidney function, you may need a different dosing schedule or may need different treatment.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

There can be serious health consequences if you don’t take this drug exactly how your doctor tells you.

If you don't take it all

For treating HIV, if you don’t take it at all, your HIV infection will eventually reduce your immunity to a point that your body won’t be able to defend itself against many types of infections. You may not be able to defend against infections that are commonly cured in people who don’t have HIV infection.

If you stop or miss doses

For treating HIV, if you stop taking this medication, miss doses, or don’t take it on schedule, the amount of medication in your body fluctuates. This can allow the HIV in your body to become resistant to the drug, which means the drug stops working.

For prevention, if you stop, miss doses, or don’t take it on schedule, the amount of medication in your body fluctuates. This can decrease its effectiveness.

If you don't take it on schedule

Taking this drug at the same time every day keeps a constant amount of the drug in your body. This helps make the drug as effective as possible.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you’re just a few hours late for your dose, take it right away. If it’s almost time to take your next dose, wait and take a single dose at the scheduled time. Never double up on doses. This can cause increased drug levels and worse side effects.

How can I tell if the drug is working?

To see how well the drug is working, your doctor will check your:

  • virus count. A virus count measures the number of copies of HIV in your body. A decreased virus count is a sign that the treatment is working.
  • CD4 count. A CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 cell count is a sign that your HIV treatment is working.

This drug is a long-term drug treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
take with or without food
You can take this drug with or without food
clock
Take your dose at the same time every day. This will provide the best possible results
don't crush tablet
Don’t cut or crush this film-coated tablet
storage
Store this drug at 77°F (25°C)
See Details
refillable prescription
Prescription is refillable
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead
See Details
prior authorization needed
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug at 77°F (25°C)

You can also briefly store it in temperatures as low as 59°F (15°C) and as high as 86°F (30°C). 

Keep the bottle tightly closed.

Note: Be careful of moist environments, including bathrooms. To keep drugs away from moisture, store them somewhere other than your bathroom and any other damp location.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may check your kidney and liver function before you start taking this medication.

Your doctor may recheck your kidney function periodically. If your kidneys slow down, you may need a different dose or switch to a different drug. Taking other drugs may increase your risk of reduced kidney function. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about all of the drugs you take before you start this treatment. 

For treating HIV:

Your doctor may also schedule a bone density scan before or during treatment.   

To see how well the drug is working, your doctor will check your:

  • virus count. A virus count measures the number of copies of HIV in your body. A decreased virus count is a sign that your treatment is working.
  • CD4 count. A CD4 count measures the amount of CD4 cells in your body. CD4 cells are white blood cells that fight infection. An increased CD4 count is a sign that your treatment is working.

For prevention:

You’ll need to be tested for HIV infection every 3 months to see if the medication is working. Your doctor may also schedule a bone density scan before or during treatment.

Not every pharmacy stocks this drug, so call ahead

If you only need a few tablets, you should call and ask if your pharmacy dispenses only a small number of tablets. Some pharmacies can't dispense only part of a bottle.

This drug is often available from specialty pharmacies through your insurance plan. These pharmacies operate like mail order pharmacies and ship the drug to you.

In larger cities, there will often be HIV pharmacies where you can have your prescriptions filled. Ask your doctor if there's an HIV pharmacy in your area.

Insurance

Many insurance plans will require a prior authorization before they will approve payment for this drug. Your doctor may have to do paperwork, which could delay treatment for a week or two.

Are there any alternatives?

For treating HIV, there are other drugs and combinations that can treat HIV. Some may be more suitable for you than others. Talk to your doctor about possible alternatives.


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Content developed in collaboration with Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on April 14, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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