Truvada is a prescription-only anti-viral medication that can prevent a person who is diagnosed as HIV negative contracting the HIV virus and becoming HIV positive. This is referred to as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). More information

A doctor will review your order and write you a prescription, if appropriate. This prescription is then forwarded to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will have your medicine delivered to you within one to three working days. Read more about this process here.

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Truvada is an anti-viral medication that can reduce the risk of contracting the HIV-1 virus that causes AIDS. It can prevent the body from making new strains of the HIV virus and it is also used in combination with other medicines for the treatment of HIV.  This medication is only available on prescription and must not be used as an alternative to practicing safe sex. It must only be used if you are diagnosed as HIV negative and there is a risk you may come into contact with the HIV virus or as a part of your HIV treatment plan. The two active ingredients in Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine) inhibit the development of the enzymes that allow the body to create new HIV viruses. 

What is Truvada? 

Truvada is a prescription-only anti-viral medication that can prevent a person who is diagnosed as HIV negative contracting the HIV virus and becoming HIV positive. This is referred to as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Being HIV positive can lead to the life-threatening AIDS . Truvada is a combination of two active ingredients: tenofovir disoproxil and emtricitabine. Both are known as NRTIs (nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors) and are used to reverse the effects of the HIV virus and reduce the volume of the virus in the body. This can slow or stop the advancement of the HIV virus to the AIDS virus and strengthen the immune system.  

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) damages the immune system’s cells and weakens the body’s ability to fight off diseases and infections. There are two types of HIV virus: HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV 1 is the most common and is referred to just as HIV in this article. HIV-2 tends to be mainly present in West Africa. If you have HIV you are known as being HIV positive, as opposed to being HIV negative if you don´t have the virus. The HIV infection cannot be cured but can be treated and managed. After a person has contracted HIV there is a possibility that this can lead to AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) which is life-threatening.  The HIV virus is transmitted by sexual activity including between gay men, bisexual men, transgender women, people with several sexual partners, heterosexual couples if one partner has the HIV virus and people who share needles and syringes. The virus exists in the body fluids of a person who is infected, including vaginal fluid, semen, anal fluids, blood and breast milk. 

AIDS is a serious disease that attacks the immune system, particularly the white blood cells. It is incurable but can be treated to ease the symptoms. When a person has AIDS their immune system becomes too weak to fight infection and illness. 

This virus cannot be transmitted by kissing (saliva), urine or sweat. 

Truvada works to prevent people from catching the virus if they are likely to be exposed to it, therefore improving their quality of life. It is not a substitute for safe sex (using condoms) and it is not a cure for HIV or AIDS. 

When is Truvada used? 

Truvada is an antiviral treatment that is used when a person is at risk of contracting the HIV virus. It is often prescribed in conjunction with other HIV medicines and should only be taken on the advice of a doctor. If you think that you have possibly  come into contact with HIV then you should have a baseline HIV test and again in 3 months time. 

It is important to note that some HIV tests do not show that a person has the virus if they have only recently contracted it. If you have tested negative but have any symptoms of the HIV virus and suspect you may have it (for example, flu-like symptoms, tiredness or fever) you should talk to your doctor. 

This medication should be taken regularly (once a day) and is not only to be taken when you plan to have sex. Truvada can also be used to treat HIV in conjunction with other medication. Truvada is not a sole treatment for HIV.  If you are HIV positive and have been prescribed Truvada it will not prevent you from passing the virus to your sexual partner so it is important to practice safe sex. This medication reduces the risk of contracting the infection but does not prevent it from being passed on. 

Truvada does not prevent and is not a treatment for other STIs (sexually transmitted infections). 

How do you use Truvada? 

Truvada comes in tablet form and is taken orally once a day at the same time. It should only be taken by adults over 18 years of age. 

You should take your Truvada tablet with food, to increase the absorption by the body, and a drink of water. You may crush the tablet and mix it with water before swallowing it if you wish.  

If you miss a dose only take the tablet you have forgotten if there are more than 12 hours to go before you take the next. You should not take a double dose.  

If you are sick within an hour after taking your tablet you should take another with food. If you are sick after one hour after taking Truvada there is no need to take another tablet. 

You should not stop taking Truvada without consulting your doctor as this can cause the HIV infection to become resistant and may also increase the side effects it can cause. 

What dosages are there? 

The usual dosage of Truvada is one tablet each day at the same time with food.  

You should take Truvada as prescribed by your doctor to ensure you benefit from the full effects of this medication and you do not develop a resistance to it.  

There is some evidence that the HIV virus can quickly become resistant to some anti-HIV medication which is why it is important your body maintains the right levels of the Truvada medication in your blood. If the levels reduce it is possible the virus could replicate and develop resistance to the medication. Even missing a few doses could cause this to occur, which is why it is important to take Truvada regularly and as instructed by your doctor. 

This medication is only suitable for adults over 18 years of age. If you are over 65 years of age, have kidney problems or liver problems (particularly hepatitis B or C) your doctor may prescribe you a lower dose of Truvada.  

What are the side effects of Truvada? 

As with all medicines, Truvada may have some side effects. However, not everyone will experience these. 

The most commons side effects can be: 

  • Sickness and nausea 
  • Dizziness 
  • Headaches 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Feeling weak 
  • Skin rash
  • The occurrence of previous infections 

Other more serious side effects are: 

  • Kidney problems 
  • Liver problems 
  • Bone problems 
  • Lactic acidosis (too much lactic acid in the blood (rare but dangerous and common in women) which if untreated can lead to death) 
  • Autoimmune disorders such as weak muscles and/or hands and feet, and palpitations or hyperactivity 

If you experience any of the side effects above and you are concerned you should see a doctor. It is particularly important to visit a doctor as soon as possible if you have any of the serious side effects. 

When shouldn’t you use Truvada? 

You should not use Truvada if you: 

  • Are allergic to any of the ingredients in the package leaflet 
  • Already have the HIV infection 
  • Do not know if you have HIV (you should get a test) 
  • Are under 18 years of age 
  • If you have severe kidney problems or are undergoing dialysis 

You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breastfeeding if you intend to take Truvada. It is not advisable to take this medication unless recommended by a doctor in any of these situations and this is only usually when it is absolutely essential. 

If you are HIV positive it is recommended you do not breastfeed as you could transmit the virus to your baby through the breast milk.  You should also advise your doctor if you are diabetic, have high cholesterol, or suffer from liver or kidney problems. 

Does Truvada interact with other medication? 

It is possible that Truvada may interact with other medication, including herbal medicines. If you are taking any other medicines you should talk to a doctor before taking Truvada. You should not take Truvada in conjunction with any medication that contains tenofovir or emtricibatine. 

Do not take NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen when taking Truvada as this could affect your kidneys. Some medications that effect the metabolism of your liver will also effect the action of Truvada 

Drinking alcohol while taking Truvada has no adverse effects. 

Where can you buy Truvada? 

You can get Truvada from a doctor, with a prescription. 

Can  I get Truvada without a prescription? 

No. Truvada is a prescription-only medicine. 


Truvada. Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 

Preidt, R. (2015, November 24) (Health Day News). More May Benefit from HIV Prevention Pill Truvada. Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 

Truvada (tenofovir and emtricitabine). July 10, 2017. Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 

Package leaflet. Package leaflet: Information for the user Truvada 200 mg/245 mg film-coated tablets Emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil. June, 2017. Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 

Overview HIV and AIDS. April 3, 2018. Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 

Truvada. (n.d.). Retrieved 2 September, 2019 from 


Assessed by:

Dr Imran Malik, General practitioner
Registration number: GMC: 4741365

Dr Imran Malik studied undergraduate medicine at King's College University in Central London and clinical studies at the prestigious King's College Hospital. He graduated with a MBBS degree in 2000 and went on to gain postgraduate memberships with the Royal Society of Medicine and also General Practice in 2006.