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How fast or how long does it take Biktarvy to work?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on May 8, 2023.

Official answer


How long does Biktarvy take to work?

  • Biktarvy (bictegravir, tenofovir, and emtricitabine) usually starts working within the first 4 weeks, with a noticeable reduction in HIV viral load (amount of HIV virus in your blood).
  • Within three to six months, the viral load in a large proportion of people falls to an undetectable level.
  • When you start Biktarvy the number of your CD4+ T-cells usually increases gradually.
  • It is important to have your HIV viral load checked regularly to make sure you have reached and stay in the undetectable range.
  • If your viral load is still detectable it is important to discuss this with your health care provider.

Figures from Clinical trials

In clinical trials to measure how well Biktarvy worked to treat HIV, they looked at how much the viral load decreased and whether the CD4 levels increased.

In a clinical trial (NCT02607930) for Bikarvy they looked at what the viral load was in patients after 48 weeks of treatment. After this treatment time 92.4 % of patients had a viral load of <50 copies/mL and 87.6% had a viral load of <20 copies/mL.

They also measured the increase in the number of CD4+ T-cells from median baseline levels and the mean increase was 233 cells/µL.

What is viral load in HIV?

The viral load is the amount of HIV genetic material in your blood. You usually get your viral load measured when you first find out you have HIV and just before you start Biktarvy. You will also get tests done after a month, three months and six months to ensure that the medicine is working for you and that the viral load is reducing.

What is an undetectable Viral load?

One of the goals of Biklarvy is to have an undetectable viral load. This is when the amount of HIV genetic material is at a level that is too small to be detected, usually less than 50 copies of HIV per ml of blood (<50 copies/mL). Undetectable doesn’t mean HIV has completely gone from your body, it is just a level that is unmeasurable.

Related Questions

What are CD4+ T cells?

CD4+ T cells are important cells in our immune system. HIV infection causes the number of CD4+ T cells to be reduced. Once the levels become too low, the immune system doesn’t work well and you are more likely to get infections and cancers, leading to the development of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).

What is the goal of Biktarvy treatment?

  • The goal of Bikarvy treatment for HIV is to keep us well, by decreasing the HIV viral load to undetectable. Once HIV viral load is low the CD4+ T cells levels increase meaning the immune system will function more normally.
  • When the level of HIV in your body is reduced to undetectable it also reduces the risk of you passing on HIV.
  • By getting and staying at an undetectable HIV viral load it reduces the chance of the HIV mutating (changing or evolving). This means there is less chance of your HIV becoming drug resistant.

Bottom Line:

  • Biktarvy Is a treatment for HIV infection, that contains three antiviral medicines emtricitabine, tenofovir alafenamide and bictegravir.
  • Biktarvy starts reducing the HIV viral load in a little as 4 weeks and continues to decrease the levels over the first 3 to 6 months to usually become undetectable.
  • Biktarvy reduces the HIV viral load and increases the CD4+ T cells which means you will stay healthier for longer, have less risk of passing on HIV and less chance of the HIV mutating and becoming resistant to drug treatment.

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