Descovy (emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat and prevent HIV. The drug comes as a tablet that you swallow. It’s usually taken once per day.

Descovy is used in adults and some children:

Descovy contains the active ingredients* emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide. Both are nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors.

This article describes the dosages of Descovy, as well as its strengths and how to take it. To learn more about Descovy, see this in-depth article.

* An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.

The information below describes the usual dosages of Descovy for HIV treatment and preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Body weight is listed in kilograms (kg). One kilogram is approximately 2.2 pounds (lb).

Dosages are in milligrams (mg), with the dosage of emtricitabine first and tenofovir alafenamide second (emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide).

Age group and body weightOnce-daily Descovy dose for HIV treatmentOnce-daily Descovy dose for PrEP
adults200 mg/25 mg200 mg/25 mg
adolescents*200 mg/25 mg200 mg/25 mg
children who weigh 25 kg or more200 mg/25 mg
children who weigh 14 kg to less than 25 kg120 mg/15 mg

Note: This table highlights the basics of Descovy’s dosage. Be sure to read on for more detail.

* For HIV treatment, adolescents follow the same dosing guidelines as other children. For PrEP, adolescents must weigh at least 35 kg.

What is Descovy’s form?

Descovy comes as a tablet that you swallow.

What strengths does Descovy come in?

Descovy comes in two strengths:

  • 200 mg/25 mg
  • 120 mg/15 mg

What are the usual dosages of Descovy?

Most people who take Descovy for HIV treatment or PrEP will take one 200-mg/25-mg tablet per day.

A lower dose is recommended for some children. For details, see “What’s the dosage of Descovy for children and adolescents?” below.

The information below describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. But be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Dosage for PrEP

When used for PrEP in adults, the daily dosage of Descovy is one 200-mg/25-mg tablet.

Dosage for HIV treatment

When used to treat HIV in adults, the daily dosage of Descovy is one 200-mg/25-mg tablet.

For treating HIV, Descovy is taken with other antiretroviral HIV drugs.

What’s the dosage of Descovy for children and adolescents?

Descovy can be used in certain children and adolescents. See below for details.

Dosage for PrEP

Descovy can be used for PrEP in adolescents who weigh at least 35 kg. The daily dosage is one 200-mg/25-mg tablet.

Dosage for HIV treatment

The dosage of Descovy for children depends on their weight.

For adolescents and children who weigh at least 25 kg, doctors prescribe one 200-mg/25-mg tablet per day. For children who weigh at least 14 kg but less than 25 kg, doctors prescribe one 120-mg/15-mg tablet per day.

For treating HIV, Descovy is taken with other antiretroviral HIV drugs.

Descovy is not used in children who:

  • weigh 14 kg to less than 35 kg and are taking a certain combination of antiretroviral HIV drugs
  • weigh less than 14 kg

Is Descovy used long term?

Yes, Descovy is usually used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that it’s safe and effective for your condition, you’ll likely take it long term.

Below are answers to some commonly asked questions about Descovy’s dosage.

How does the dosage of Descovy compare with the dosage of Truvada?

The dosages of Descovy and Truvada both depend on body weight. Each drug comes as a tablet you take once per day. Descovy comes in two strengths, and Truvada comes in four strengths.

Descovy and Truvada both contain the active ingredient* emtricitabine. (They also contain second active ingredients that differ.)

Adults and children who weigh more than 35 kilograms (kg) will usually take 200 milligrams (mg) of emtricitabine in either Truvada or Descovy. For those who weigh less than 35 kg, the recommended dosages of emtricitabine differ between the two drugs.

If you have more questions about how the dosages of Descovy and Truvada compare, talk with your doctor. You can also learn more about Truvada’s dosage in this article.

* An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.

Does Descovy require dosage adjustments in older adults?

Older adults (ages 65 years and older) usually don’t require dosage adjustments for Descovy. In studies of Descovy in older adults, someone’s age did not affect whether the drug was safe for them.

If you’re concerned about your dosage of Descovy, talk with your doctor.

You’ll take Descovy once daily, with or without food. If you have trouble swallowing tablets, see this article for some tips.

For information on the expiration, storage, and disposal of Descovy, see this article.

Accessible drug containers and labels

Some pharmacies provide medication labels that:

  • have large print or use braille
  • feature a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text to audio

Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend pharmacies that offer these accessibility features if your current pharmacy doesn’t.

If you have trouble opening medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to supply Descovy in an easy-open container. They may also have tips to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.

If you miss a dose of Descovy, take it as soon as you remember. But if it’s almost time to take your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at its scheduled time. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you’re unsure when to take your next dose.

It’s important to take Descovy every day for the treatment to work. If you’re taking Descovy for preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), missing doses increases the risk of acquiring HIV. And if you’re taking Descovy for HIV treatment, missing doses can cause the virus to develop drug resistance. (With resistance, the drug no longer works on the virus.)

If you need help remembering to take your dose of Descovy on time, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or downloading a reminder app on your phone.

Do not take more Descovy than your doctor prescribes as this can lead to serious side effects.

What to do in case you take too much Descovy

Call your doctor right away if you think you’ve taken too much Descovy. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach America’s Poison Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.

The sections above describe the usual dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Descovy for you, they’ll prescribe the dosage that’s right for you.

Remember, you should not change your dosage of Descovy without your doctor’s recommendation. Only take Descovy exactly as prescribed. Talk with your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your current dosage.

Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Will my Descovy dosage change if I develop kidney problems while taking the drug?
  • Do my other HIV medications affect my Descovy dosage?
  • Would I have fewer side effects with a lower dosage of Descovy?

To learn more about Descovy, see these articles:

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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 another 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.