Medically reviewed on October 25, 2017.
What is emtricitabine and tenofovir?
Emtricitabine and tenofovir are antiviral medicines that prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from multiplying in your body.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir is a combination medicine used to treat HIV, the virus that can cause acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). This medicine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS, but it can be used to treat HIV in adults and children who are at least 12 years old and weigh at least 17 kilograms (37 pounds).
Emtricitabine and tenofovir is also used in children who weigh between 55 and 77 pounds (25 to 35 kilograms) and who take certain other HIV medications.
The Truvada brand of this medicine may be used together with safer-sex practices to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. You must be HIV-negative and an adult to use Truvada for this purpose. Truvada may not provide protection from disease in every person.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Do not take this combination medicine if you also take other medicines that contain emtricitabine, tenofovir, lamivudine, or adefovir.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir is sometimes used to reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV. You must be HIV-negative and an adult to use the medicine for this purpose.
This medicine may cause a serious condition called lactic acidosis. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms such as: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, fast or uneven heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.
If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medicine, even months after stopping.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take this medicine if you are allergic to emtricitabine or tenofovir. Do not take if you also use other medicines that contain emtricitabine, tenofovir, lamivudine, or adefovir (such as Atripla, Combivir, Complera, Descovy, Dutrebis, Emtriva, Epivir, Epzicom, Genvoya, Hepsera, Odefsey, Stribild, Triumeq, Trizivir, or Viread).
Do not take Truvada to reduce infection risk if you are HIV-positive, if have been exposed to HIV within the past month, or if you had any symptoms (such as fever, sore throat, night sweats, swollen glands, diarrhea, body aches).
If you take Truvada to reduce your risk of HIV infection: You must have a negative HIV test immediately before you start taking the medicine. An HIV test is also required every 3 months during treatment.
To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
Some people taking this medicine develop a serious condition called lactic acidosis. This may be more likely in women, in people who are overweight or have liver disease, and in people who have taken HIV/AIDS medication for a long time. Talk with your doctor about your risk.
HIV can be passed to your baby if you are not properly treated during pregnancy. Take all of your HIV medicines as directed to control your infection.
You should not breast-feed while you are using this medication to treat or prevent HIV. Women with HIV or AIDS should not breast-feed a baby. Even if your baby is born without HIV, the virus may be passed to the baby in your breast milk.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir is not approved for anyone younger than 12 years old. The child receiving this medicine must weigh at least 37 pounds.
How should I take emtricitabine and tenofovir?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
You may take this medicine with or without food.
Use emtricitabine and tenofovir regularly to get the most benefit. Try not to miss any doses. Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.
While using this medicine you may need frequent medical tests to check your kidney and liver function, or your bone mineral density.
HIV/AIDS is usually treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice. Every person with HIV or AIDS should remain under the care of a doctor.
Store in the original container at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms after you stop taking this medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using emtricitabine and tenofovir.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skipping doses may increase the risk of your virus becoming resistant to antiviral medicine.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking emtricitabine and tenofovir?
Taking this medication will not prevent you from passing HIV to other people. Do not have unprotected sex or share razors or toothbrushes. Talk with your doctor about safe ways to prevent HIV transmission during sex. Sharing drug or medicine needles is never safe, even for a healthy person.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Early symptoms of lactic acidosis may get worse over time and this condition can be fatal. Get emergency medical help if you have even mild symptoms: muscle pain or weakness, numb or cold feeling in your arms and legs, trouble breathing, stomach pain, nausea with vomiting, irregular heart rate, dizziness, or feeling very weak or tired.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
sudden or unusual bone pain;
kidney problems--little or no urination, painful or difficult urination, swelling in your feet or ankles, feeling tired or short of breath; or
liver problems--nausea, swelling around your midsection, upper stomach pain, unusual tiredness, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Emtricitabine and tenofovir may increase your risk of certain infections or autoimmune disorders by changing the way your immune system works. Symptoms may occur weeks or months after you start treatment with emtricitabine and tenofovir. Tell your doctor if you have:
signs of a new infection--fever, night sweats, swollen glands, mouth sores, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss;
chest pain (especially when you breathe), dry cough, wheezing, feeling short of breath;
cold sores, sores on your genital or anal area;
rapid heart rate, feeling anxious or irritable, weakness or prickly feeling, problems with balance or eye movement;
trouble speaking or swallowing, severe lower back pain, loss of bladder or bowel control; or
swelling in your neck or throat (enlarged thyroid), menstrual changes, impotence, loss of interest in sex.
Common side effects may include:
headache, dizziness, feeling depressed or tired;
sleep problems (insomnia), strange dreams;
nausea, stomach pain;
weight loss; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect emtricitabine and tenofovir?
Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with emtricitabine and tenofovir, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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