Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) is a prescription drug that’s used to treat and prevent HIV in certain people. Truvada comes as an oral tablet.

Truvada is used:

To learn more about Truvada’s uses, see the “What is Truvada used for?” section below.

Truvada basics

Truvada contains the active ingredients emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) Truvada is a brand-name medication that’s also available as the generic drug emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.

Like most drugs, Truvada may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Truvada may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you take

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Truvada. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects that Truvada can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Truvada’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Truvada that have been reported include:

In addition to the side effects above, weight loss and abdominal pain were also reported in people who used Truvada for HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in studies. People who used Truvada to treat HIV in studies did not report these side effects.

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Truvada can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Truvada, call your doctor right away. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of Truvada that have been reported include:

  • bone loss
  • depression
  • immune reconstitution syndrome (symptoms you may have if you take Truvada to treat HIV, which are caused by your immune system responding to past infections that may still be in your body)
  • kidney problems, including sudden kidney failure
  • lactic acidosis (a medical emergency caused by too much lactic acid in your blood)
  • liver problems, including liver damage
  • boxed warnings: risk of worsening hepatitis B after stopping treatment and risk of drug resistance to Truvada*
  • severe allergic reaction†

* For more information, see the “What should be considered before taking Truvada?” section.
† To learn more about this side effect, see the “Allergic reaction” section below.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Truvada.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Truvada. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Truvada and Descovy are both oral tablets used to treat HIV in adults and certain children. In addition, both drugs may be used for HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in adults and certain adolescents.

Truvada and Descovy both contain emtricitabine, but they each contain a different second active ingredient. Truvada contains tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, while Descovy contains tenofovir alafenamide.

To learn more about how these drugs compare, see this article.

Truvada is used:

  • to treat HIV in adults and in children who weigh at least 17 kilograms (kg)*
  • for HIV PReP in adults and adolescents who weigh at least 35 kg

* One kg is equal to about 2.2 pounds.

Truvada for HIV

HIV is a virus that weakens and damages your immune system. This makes your body more susceptible to infections and certain other conditions, including cancer. Without treatment, HIV can develop into AIDS.

Truvada works to treat HIV by preventing it from replicating (copying itself) and growing in your body. Although it’s not a cure for HIV, Truvada can help extend life expectancy, lower your risk of infection, and reduce the spread of HIV to other people.

Truvada is used with other antiretroviral medications to treat HIV. You’ll take at least one other antiretroviral drug with Truvada. Your doctor can provide more information on how Truvada fits into your HIV treatment plan, including which other medication(s) you’ll take with Truvada. Examples of other antiretrovirals that may be used with Truvada include raltegravir (Isentress) and dolutegravir (Tivicay).

Truvada for HIV PrEP

Truvada may be prescribed for HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Doctors recommend HIV PrEP for certain people who don’t have HIV but are considered to have a high risk of exposure to it. For example, someone who has a sexual partner with HIV may benefit from HIV PrEP.

When used for HIV PrEP, Truvada works by preventing the virus from replicating in your body after exposure.

You should not take Truvada for HIV PrEP if you already have HIV. To treat HIV, Truvada must be used with other medications. Truvada used on its own, is not a complete treatment for HIV.

Your doctor will order an HIV test before prescribing Truvada for you. This is to ensure that you don’t have HIV. You’ll have this test done at least every 3 months for as long as you take Truvada for HIV PrEP.

Whether you have health insurance or not, cost may be a factor when you’re considering Truvada. What you’ll pay for Truvada may depend on several things, such as your treatment plan and the pharmacy you use.

Here are a few things to consider regarding cost:

  • Cost information and savings coupons: You can visit Optum Perks to get price estimates of what you’d pay for Truvada when using coupons from the site. See the coupon options below. (Note: Optum Perks coupons cannot be used with any insurance copays or benefits.)
  • Generic form: Truvada is available as the generic drug emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Generics usually cost less than brand-name drugs. Talk with your doctor if you’d like to know whether generic emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate could be an option for you.

You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.

Save on your Truvada prescription

Save on Truvada without insurance.

Enter your information:

Location

47201

Dosage

200-300 emtricitabine tenofovir (30 Tablets)

Save money without using insurance

Simply show the Optum Perks coupon at your preferred pharmacy or order online and instantly save up to 80% without using insurance. The coupon doesn’t expire, so be sure to save it for refills.

Find your pharmacy
advertisement
SEE MORE RESULTS

Retail price refers to the manufacturer’s published list price and is up to date as of 3/2023. Retail and discounted prices are U.S.-only and can vary based on region and pharmacy. We cannot guarantee that the discounted price listed here will exactly match the price at your pharmacy. Please contact your pharmacy for the exact price.

Optum Perks and Healthline are subsidiaries of RVO Health.

Pricing source:Perks.optum.com

optum-logo

Was this helpful?

Other drugs are available that can treat your condition. If you’d like to explore an alternative to Truvada, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that might work well for you.

The following drugs are similar to Truvada and are used to treat HIV:

  • emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (Descovy)
  • dolutegravir/abacavir/lamivudin (Triumeq)
  • bictegravir/emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide (Biktarvy)
  • elvitegravir/cobicistat/tenofovir alafenamide/emtricitabine (Genvoya)
  • elvitegravir/cobicistat/emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (Stribild)

Currently, Descovy is the only other medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for HIV PrEP besides Truvada.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Truvada that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Form and strengths

Truvada is available as an oral tablet in four strengths:

  • 100 milligrams (mg) emtricitabine/150 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
  • 133 mg emtricitabine/200 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
  • 167 mg emtricitabine/250 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
  • 200 mg emtricitabine/300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate

Recommended dosage

You’ll likely take Truvada once per day. To learn more about Truvada’s dosage, see this article.

Questions about taking Truvada

Below are some common questions about taking Truvada.

  • Can Truvada be chewed, crushed, or split? No, you shouldn’t chew, crush, or split Truvada tablets. You should swallow them whole. If you have difficulty swallowing pills, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
  • Should I take Truvada with food?You can take Truvada with or without food.
  • Is there a best time of day to take Truvada? You can take Truvada at any time of day, but it’s best to take it around the same time each day. This helps keep a consistent level of the drug in your body, which helps Truvada work effectively.
  • What if I miss a dose of Truvada ? If you miss a dose of Truvada, 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 usual time. You should not take two doses at once to make up for a missed dose. Doing so could raise your risk of side effects.
  • Will I need to use Truvada long term? Truvada is typically used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that it’s safe and effective for your condition, you’ll likely use it long term.

Overdose

Do not take more Truvada than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to harmful effects.

What to do in case you take too much Truvada

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Truvada. 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.

Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Truvada.

How long do side effects of Truvada typically last?

Not long, usually. In most cases, side effects caused by Truvada are mild and go away on their own in a few hours or days.

If you have side effects that last longer or are severe, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How does Truvada work?

Truvada works by preventing HIV from replicating (copying itself) and growing in your body. It does this by blocking an enzyme (a type of protein) called reverse transcriptase, which HIV must have in order to copy itself and grow.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’d like to learn more about how Truvada works.

Does Truvada expire?

Yes, Truvada can expire. When you receive your prescription, it should have a label that contains an expiration date. This date is typically 1 year from the day that the prescription is dispensed to you, although this may vary. You can ask your pharmacist for help if you can’t find the expiration date on your prescription.

Below is important information you should consider before taking Truvada.

Interactions

Taking a drug with certain medications, vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.

Before starting Truvada treatment, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Truvada can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain supplements as well as certain foods.

Before taking Truvada, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

For more information about Truvada and interactions, see this in-depth article.

Drug interactions

Below is a list of medications that can interact with Truvada. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Truvada. If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Drug group or drug nameDrug examples
standard antivirals• valacyclovir (Valtrex)
• valganciclovir (Valcyte)
aminoglycoside antibiotics• gentamicin
• amikacin
hepatitis C antivirals• ledipasvir/sofosbuvir (Harvoni)
• sofosbuvir/velpatasvir (Epclusa)
protease inhibitors• ritonavir (Norvir)
• atazanavir (Reyataz)
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugsibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
• celecoxib (Celebrex)

Truvada and alcohol

Alcohol is not known to interact with Truvada. But if you have certain side effects from Truvada, alcohol may make your symptoms worse. Examples of these side effects include diarrhea, headache, and dizziness. Because of this, your doctor may recommend that you limit the amount of alcohol you drink.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much may be safe to consume during your Truvada treatment.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

It’s not known for certain whether Truvada is safe to take during pregnancy. But information from the Antiretroviral Pregnancy Registry suggests that Truvada does not increase the risk of problems with fetal development (commonly known as birth defects).

And continuing HIV treatment during pregnancy can help prevent transmitting HIV to the child, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your HIV treatment plan during pregnancy.

If you’re taking Truvada to treat HIV, your doctor will likely recommend that you do not breastfeed. This is a general recommendation for anyone with HIV, as HIV can be passed to a child through breast milk.

If you’re taking Truvada for HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits before breastfeeding your child.

Boxed warnings

Truvada has two boxed warnings, which are described below. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of worsening hepatitis B after stopping treatment: If you have hepatitis B, the infection may worsen and cause severe symptoms if you stop taking Truvada. In rare cases, this can result in liver failure. Because of this risk, your doctor will order a blood test to check for hepatitis B before you start taking Truvada to treat HIV.

If you develop hepatitis B while taking Truvada and need to end your treatment, your doctor may order blood tests to check your liver health for a few months afterward.

Risk of drug resistance to Truvada: Truvada should only be used for HIV PrEP in people who do not have HIV. If you have HIV and take Truvada without other drugs to treat HIV, your HIV may become resistant to emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, the active drugs in Truvada. This means the drugs no longer work to stop HIV from replicating (copying itself) and growing.

Because of this risk, your doctor will order an HIV test before prescribing Truvada as an HIV PrEP treatment for you. This is to ensure that you don’t have HIV. You’ll have this test done at least every 3 months for as long as you take Truvada for HIV PrEP.

Other warnings

Truvada can sometimes cause harmful effects in people who have certain conditions. This is known as a drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether Truvada is a good treatment option for you.

Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Truvada. Be sure to tell them if any of the following factors apply to you:

If you have questions about taking Truvada, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Questions you may want to ask include:

  • Does the effectiveness of Truvada change over time?
  • How should I manage mild side effects from Truvada?
  • Do any medications I take interact with Truvada? If so, is it still safe for me to take?

To learn more about Truvada, see these articles:

To get information on different conditions and tips for improving your health, subscribe to any of Healthline’s newsletters. You may also want to check out the online communities at Bezzy. It’s a place where people with certain conditions can find support and connect with others.

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.