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An Overview of Truvada (Tenofovir/FTC)

April 23, 2015


Brand Name: Truvada
Other Name(s): emtricitabine/tenofovir, FTC/TDF
Drug Class: Nucleoside Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors
Approved Use: Treatment of HIV Infection; Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to Reduce the Risk of HIV Infection

Chemical Images:


Molecular Weight: 247.249

tenofovir disoproxil fumarate

tenofovir disoproxil fumarate
Molecular Weight: 635.5166


Truvada can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood) and liver problems.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of lactic acidosis:

  • Weakness or tiredness.
  • Unusual (not normal) muscle pain.
  • Trouble breathing.
  • Stomach pain with nausea and vomiting.
  • Hands or feet that feel cold or turn blue.
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat.

Contact your health care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms that could be signs of liver problems:

  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice).
  • Dark-colored urine.
  • Light-colored bowel movements.
  • Loss of appetite for several days or longer.
  • Nausea.
  • Pain in the stomach area (abdominal pain).

Truvada is not approved for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. If you have both HIV and HBV infection and take Truvada, your HBV infection may get worse (flare up) if you stop taking Truvada. But do not stop taking Truvada without first talking to your health care provider. If your health care provider tells you to stop Truvada, you will be monitored closely for several months to check your HBV infection, or you may receive a medicine to treat your HBV infection.

Do not take Truvada to reduce the risk of getting HIV -- also called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP -- unless you are confirmed to be HIV negative.

While taking Truvada, it is important to keep all of your appointments with your health care provider.

What Is Truvada?

Truvada is a prescription medicine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the following uses:

  • To treat HIV infection in adults and adolescents who are 12 years of age or older and weigh at least 77 pounds (35 kilograms). When Truvada is used to treat HIV infection, the medicine is always used in combination with other HIV medicines.
  • To reduce the risk of HIV infection in adults who are HIV-negative and at high risk of getting HIV infection. This method to prevent HIV infection is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Because PrEP does not always prevent HIV infection, other prevention options, such as condoms, should always be used with PrEP. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) PrEP webpage for more information, including information on who should consider taking PrEP.

Truvada is a single pill that contains the following two different HIV medicines:

  • Emtricitabine (brand name: Emtriva).
  • Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (brand name: Viread).

Both HIV medicines belong to a class (group) of HIV drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs block an HIV enzyme called reverse transcriptase. (An enzyme is a protein that starts or increases the speed of a chemical reaction.) By blocking reverse transcriptase, the two drugs in combination prevent HIV from multiplying and can reduce the amount of HIV in the body.

HIV medicines can't cure HIV/AIDS, but taking a combination of HIV medicines (called an HIV regimen) every day helps people with HIV live longer, healthier lives. Whether you are taking Truvada for HIV prevention or in combination with other HIV medicines for HIV treatment, don't cut down on, skip, or stop taking your HIV medicine(s) unless your health care provider tells you to.

What Should I Tell My Health Care Provider Before Taking Truvada?

Before taking Truvada, tell your health care provider:

  • If you are allergic to either of the HIV medicines in Truvada (emtricitabine or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) or any other medicines.
  • If you have liver problems, including HBV infection.
  • If you have kidney problems or receive kidney dialysis treatment.
  • If you have bone problems.
  • If you have any other medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Whether Truvada can harm an unborn baby is unknown. Talk to your health care provider about possible risks with taking Truvada when pregnant.
  • If you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Do not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or are taking Truvada.
  • About other prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Truvada may affect the way other medicines or products work, and other medicines or products may affect how Truvada works. Taking Truvada together with certain medicines or products may cause serious side effects.

Before taking Truvada to reduce your risk of getting HIV, you must get tested to be sure you are HIV negative. Do not take Truvada to reduce the risk of getting HIV unless you are confirmed to be HIV negative.

Before taking Truvada for PrEP, also tell your health care provider:

  • If you had a flu-like illness within the last month before starting Truvada (or at any time while taking Truvada). If you have flu-like symptoms, you could have recently become infected with HIV. Symptoms of new HIV infection include: tiredness, fever, sweating a lot (especially at night), rash, vomiting, diarrhea, joint or muscle aches, headache, sore throat, or enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin.
  • If you think that you were exposed to HIV. Your health care provider may want to do more tests to be sure you are still HIV negative.

How Should I Take Truvada?

Truvada comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains:

  • 200 mg emtricitabine (brand name: Emtriva).
  • 300 mg tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (brand name: Viread).

Take Truvada according to your health care provider's instructions.

Take Truvada with or without food at the same time each day.

If you take Truvada to reduce your risk of getting HIV, you will get tested for HIV at least every 3 months. Truvada used for PrEP must be taken every day to give the best protection against HIV infection. Always combine use of Truvada with other prevention methods, such as condoms.

If you take too much Truvada, contact your health care provider or local poison control center (1-800-222-1222) right away, or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.

For more information on how to take Truvada, see the FDA drug label from DailyMed. (DailyMed is a federal website that includes the most recent drug labels submitted to FDA.)

What Should I Do if I Forget a Dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. But if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose at the regular time. Do not take more than one dose of Truvada in a day. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

What Side Effects Can Truvada Cause?

Truvada can cause serious, life-threatening side effects. These include lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid in the blood) and liver problems. (See the WARNING above.)

Other possible side effects of Truvada include:

  • New or worsening kidney problems, including kidney failure.
  • Bone problems (bone pain, softening, or thinning [osteopenia]).
  • Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), a condition that sometimes occurs when the immune system begins to recover after treatment with an HIV medicine. As the immune system gets stronger, it may have an increased response to a previously hidden infection. Tell your health care provider if you start having new symptoms after starting your HIV medicine.
  • Changes in body fat (lipodystrophy).

Tell your health care provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all the possible side effects of Truvada. To learn more about possible side effects of Truvada, read the drug label or package insert or talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.

The AIDSinfo fact sheet on HIV Medicines and Side Effects also includes information that may apply to Truvada.

You can report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or online at

How Should Truvada Be Stored?

  • Store Truvada at room temperature, 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).
  • Keep Truvada in its original container and keep the container tightly closed.
  • Do not use Truvada if the original seal over the bottle opening is broken or missing.
  • Throw away Truvada that is no longer needed or expired (out of date). Follow FDA guidelines on how to safely dispose of unused medicine.
  • Keep Truvada and all medicines out of reach of children.

Where Can I Find More Information About Truvada?

More information about Truvada is available:

Manufacturer Information

Gilead Sciences, Inc.

The above Patient Version drug summary is based on the following FDA label(s): Tablet (film coated).

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More on Truvada (Tenofovir/FTC)

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This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.

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