Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil is a treatment used in pre exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. It is the generic version of Truvada, a drug made by Gilead.
PLEASE NOTE: As this treatment is a generic medicine, the brand of the product you receive may be different to the one shown in the picture.
Ordering your prescription for PrEP online is simple with our confidential prescribing service. We work with GMC registered doctors and a UK pharmacy, and all treatments are delivered by tracked courier.
Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil is a tablet used in pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV. It is an antiretroviral medicine, which inhibits the action of an enzyme that the virus needs to develop. The branded version of this drug is called Truvada, and is made by Gilead. The generic, Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil, contains the same ingredients and works in the same way.
Please note that although this drug significantly lowers the risk of HIV, it does not eradicate it. You should still take precautions, such as practising safe sex, even if you are using this medicine.
What is the best way to take PrEP?
There are several ways PrEP can be taken. Which method you follow will depend on how and when you plan to have sex, and what your doctor has recommended for you.
Read more about the different methods of taking PrEP.
Do I need to get tested first?
Yes. If you have not used PrEP before, you will need to take a test to determine your HIV status. This can be done through your local GUM clinic service, or alternatively, you can order a HIV test kit online.
Read more about what to do before starting PrEP.
You can buy or renew your Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil treatment online from our UK pharmacy. Our consultation service is staffed by GMC-registered doctors, before being handled by a dispensing pharmacy based in the UK.
We only supply this drug to patients using it for PrEP. If you take this medicine for the treatment of HIV and need to renew your prescription, you will need to do so with your GP.
What are the symptoms of HIV, and how is it treated?
The human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a condition which attacks the immune system. Over time, if left untreated, it can damage immune cells to the point where the body is no longer able to take on infections or illnesses. Medication post exposure aims to suppress the virus from developing; most typically, a combination of antiretrovirals is used to treat the infection in someone who is HIV positive.
HIV doesn’t always cause distinguishable symptoms. In some cases, someone may develop flu-like symptoms (high temperature, a rash, headache, tiredness) shortly after they have contracted the virus. These can easily be mistaken for other illnesses, and may not be taken as a sign of HIV infection; so it is possible to have the virus and not know, in some cases, for many years.
What does testing for HIV involve?
Screening for HIV involves a blood test. This is usually performed as part of general STI testing. It is recommended that sexually active people at risk of HIV get tested regularly; ideally every three months, even if there are no symptoms present.
The virus is present in the semen, vaginal fluid, anal fluid or blood of an infected person; but not in sweat or saliva. Consequently, the main routes of transmission for HIV are unprotected sex, and through the use of shared needles or syringes. In the UK though, unprotected sex is the more common route.
Using barrier contraception, such as a condom, is the best form of protection against several STIs. However, those at increased risk of HIV exposure may benefit from taking PrEP to reduce the likelihood of contracting the infection.
How does PrEP work?
The main treatment currently available for PrEP is Truvada. The generic version of this is called Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil. These are the names of the active constituents in the drug, and are called antiretrovirals. To reproduce, HIV needs an enzyme in the body called reverse transcriptase. Emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil work by limiting the activity of this enzyme. This then makes it harder for HIV to develop.
Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil is currently licensed for PrEP by the European Medicines Agency. It is important when you buy generic Truvada, or any generic drug for that matter, to ensure you only do so from a registered seller.
How can I get Em/Tenofovir online?
To renew your PrEP prescription online, take our questionnaire. Your answers will be reviewed by a practising doctor, and once approved, an e-prescription will be issued. This will then be sent to our UK pharmacy to be dispensed, before being shipped by secure delivery.
Take this medication exactly as instructed by your prescriber. Make sure you read the instructions in the patient information leaflet fully before use.
It is important to ensure you are HIV negative before starting this treatment. Read more on our page: What you need to do before you start PrEP.
There are several ways to take PrEP. Below are the instructions for ‘daily PrEP’ use (those who take it every day). This is a suitable option for both vaginal and anal sex.
You can read more on our dedicated page about the different ways of taking PrEP.
PrEP daily use
- To reduce HIV risk, take one tablet per day.
- The ‘lead in’ time for PrEP when taken daily is one week. This means that it should start to work at its optimum 7 days after you start taking it.
- Ideally, the tablet should be taken with food, at the same time each day.
- The tablet can be crushed and mixed with 100ml of water, orange juice or grape juice if you have trouble swallowing.
- It is crucial to make sure you do not miss a dose.
- If you do miss a dose, you can take it when you remember provided less than 12 hours have passed (since your missed dose).
- If more than 12 hours have passed, you should skip the missed dose and take your next one at the usual time.
- If you vomit less than one hour after taking the tablet, you should take another. If you are sick more than an hour after taking it, you do not need to take another tablet.
- Do not exceed the dose issued your prescriber.
- You should not stop taking Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil without speaking to your doctor first.
- To help reduce your risk of HIV transmission, you should still practice safe sex, even if you are taking PrEP.
If you need any further advice, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Seek medical advice right away if you notice signs of:
- an allergic reaction
- lactic acidosis, such as heavy and fast breathing, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness or abdominal pain
- inflammation or infection
- or immune disorders, such as muscle weakness, tremor or palpitations.
If any of the following side effects becomes serious, tell your doctor:
Very common (1 in 10 people or more):
Diarrhoea, vomiting, rash, dizziness, weakness, headache, abnormal blood phosphate levels.
Common (1 in 10 people or less):
Pain, sleep disruption, digestion problems, rashes, darkening of the skin in patches, wheezing, swelling, low white blood cell count, raised triglycerides, liver or pancreas problems.
Uncommon (1 in 100 people or less):
Angioedema, pain in the abdomen caused by an inflamed pancreas, anaemia, muscular pain caused by kidney problems, drop in blood potassium levels, changes in urine.
Rare (1 in 1,000 or less):
Lactic acidosis, fatty liver, jaundice, kidney damage or inflammation, softening of bones, back pain.
Osteonecrosis, causing joint aches and stiffness, and mobility issues. Tell your doctor if you notice these symptoms.
More detailed information can be found in the leaflet provided.
Taking it with other medicines
If you are already taking other drugs also containing Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil, do not use it.
Tell your doctor if you are taking any other prescription, non-prescription or remedial drugs, including: aminoglycosides, amphotericin B, didanosine foscarnet, ganciclovir, pentamidine, vancomycin, interleukin-2, cidofovir, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, a protease inhibitor or ledipasvir/sofosbuvir.
Conditions to look out for
Do not take Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil if you are allergic to anything in it.
During consultation, it is important to let your doctor know if you have or have ever had liver or kidney problems, as they may need to take special precautions or undertake certain tests before prescribing this drug.
If you are over 65
Speak to your doctor before using PrEP if you are over 65.
This tablet contains lactose. Inform your prescriber if you are intolerant to any sugars.
You should get tested for STIs, including HIV, regularly if you are sexually active.
Before starting treatment with Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil, you will need to be tested to check your HIV status. The drug only reduces risk of transmission in those who are HIV negative.
This drug, when used for the treatment (instead of prevention) of HIV, will need to be taken alongside other antiviral medications.
In some cases, a HIV test may not pick up a more recent infection; the incubation period can take several weeks, or in some cases months.
If you notice any of the following in the weeks prior to starting Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil, or at any time when taking it, let your doctor know:
- high temperature or fever
- aching joints or muscles
- being sick
- loose stools (diarrhoea)
- sweats during the night
- enlarged glands
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Women who are pregnant, think they might be pregnant or are planning to become pregnant will need to consult with their doctor before using PrEP; it is only prescribed when absolutely necessary in these cases.
It is important for women taking PrEP to use contraception to avoid becoming pregnant.
Women should not breastfeed when using PrEP.
Driving and machinery
This drug may cause dizziness. If you become dizzy, do not drive or operate machines, and let your doctor know.
Safe sex and other precautions
When taking PrEP, you will still need to take other precautions to lower your risk of HIV.
- Practice safe sex (use a condom).
- Do not share implements that come into contact with blood or infected bodily fluids, such as toothbrushes or razors.
- Do not share syringes or needles.
- If you notice any signs of an infection, tell your doctor immediately.
- Get tested for STIs regularly, as other infections such as gonorrhoea or chlamydia can increase the risk of HIV transmission.
Your doctor can provide further advice on lowering your HIV risk.
Can I still drink alcohol?
Yes. It is not thought that this drug is inhibited by alcohol use.
However, you should still only ever drink in sensible amounts. Doing so will help you to make sure that you take the medication when required, and practice sex taking the appropriate precautions.
Will I still be able to drive?
If you become dizzy while using Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil, do not drive and inform your doctor.
Can I take this medicine while pregnant?
The effects of the drug on pregnancy have not been studied. This medication is only prescribed to pregnant women where absolutely necessary. Women taking PrEP should not breastfeed.
How do I store it?
Keep it in a safe place out of the reach of children.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
Do not take this drug if you are allergic to any of the following ingredients: emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil, mannitol, sodium stearyl fumarate, microcystalline cellulose (E460), hydroxypropylcellulose-low substituted (E463) hypromellose (E464), polyvinyl alcohol part-hydrolyzed (E1203), titanium dioxide (E171), macrogol 3350 (E1521), talc (E553b), iron oxide yellow (E172), and indigo carmine aluminium lake (E132).
Is it available over-the-counter?
No. PrEP is prescription only. If you are already taking PrEP, you can renew your existing prescription with our secure facility.
How can I get Em/Tenofovir online?
It is important to know your HIV status before starting PrEP. You can do this through your local testing services, or by ordering a HIV test kit online.
If you are taking Emtricitabine/Tenofovir disoproxil for PrEP and are looking to buy or renew your prescription online, our confidential service enables you to get your medication quickly and efficiently. All you need to do is select the treatment you need, and take our questionnaire. Each order is reviewed by a GMC-registered doctor before being dispensed at our UK pharmacy.
Once your medication has been issued, it will usually be delivered to you in just one working day by express courier.
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