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Can Descovy be used for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in HIV?

Medically reviewed by Judith Stewart, BPharm. Last updated on Feb 14, 2023.

Official answer


Yes. The FDA approved Descovy (emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide) for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV-1 infection in October 2019.

What is PrEP?

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is an HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take medicine on a daily basis to reduce their risk of getting HIV if they are exposed to the virus.

What is Descovy?

Descovy is a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide which are both both HIV nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Descovy was first approved by the FDA for the treatment of HIV-1 infection in 2016.

  • Descovy is used together with other HIV-1 medicines to treat HIV-1 infection in adults and children who weigh at least 55 pounds (25 kg).
  • Descovy is used for HIV-1 PrEP to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection in at-risk, adult and adolescent HIV-negative men and transgender women (≥35 kg) .

Descovy for PrEP is not for use in people born female (assigned female at birth) who are at risk of HIV-1 infection from vaginal sex, because its effectiveness has not been studied.

Descovy is an oral tablet taken once daily with or without food.

Descovy is the second medicine approved for PrEP, after the approval of Truvada (emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate) in 2012.

See Medications for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis

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