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Truvada (Tenofovir + Emtricitabine)

August 10, 2014

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Table of Contents

What Is Truvada?

Truvada is a pill that contains two drugs used to fight HIV: tenofovir (Viread) and emtricitabine (Emtriva). Truvada is manufactured by Gilead Sciences. Generic versions have been approved under PEPFAR (see Fact Sheet 475).

The drugs in Truvada are called nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors, or nukes. These drugs block the reverse transcriptase enzyme. This enzyme changes HIV's genetic material (RNA) into the DNA. This occurs before HIV's genetic code gets inserted into an infected cell's chromosome.

Who Should Take Truvada?

Truvada was approved in 2004 for treatment of people with HIV infection. It has not been carefully studied in children or older people.

Truvada is also approved for daily use by adults confirmed to be HIV negative, don't have symptoms of recent HIV infection and at high risk of becoming infected. PrEP should be used in combination with safer sex practices. This use is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP, see Fact Sheet 160).

While antiretroviral therapy is recommended for all persons living with HIV in the US, Canada and Brazil, there are no absolute rules about when to start antiretroviral therapy (ART). You and your health care provider should consider your CD4 cell count, your viral load, any symptoms you are having, and your attitude about taking ART. Fact Sheet 404 has more information about guidelines for the use of ART.

If you take Truvada with other antiretroviral drugs, you can reduce your viral load to undetectable levels, and increase your CD4 cell counts. This should mean staying healthier longer.

Truvada is not approved for treating people who have hepatitis B infection (HBV).

Some people with HBV get worse after they stopped taking Truvada. Get tested for hepatitis B before you start taking Truvada to treat HIV.

Truvada provides two drugs in one pill. It can be more convenient to use Truvada than some other combinations of drugs. This could mean fewer missed doses and better control of HIV.

What About Drug Resistance?

Many new copies of HIV are mutations. They are slightly different from the original virus. Some mutations can keep multiplying even when you are taking an ARV. When this happens, the drug will stop working. This is called "developing resistance" to the drug. See Fact Sheet 126 for more information on resistance.

Sometimes, if your virus develops resistance to one drug, it will also have resistance to other ARVs. This is called "cross-resistance."

Resistance can develop quickly. It is very important to take ARVs according to instructions, on schedule, and not to skip or reduce doses.

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This article was provided by AIDS InfoNet. Visit AIDS InfoNet's website to find out more about their activities and publications.

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