Truvada, or generic Emtricitabine/Tenofovir Disproxil Fumarate, is an antiretroviral medication prescribed for treating the symptoms of the human immunodeficiency virus, better known as HIV. The drug regimen involves 3 or 4 drugs being taken together so if the virus becomes resistant to 1 of the medications you take, there are other “back-up” drugs to keep fighting the virus. The generic alternative is not manufactured by the company that makes the brand product.
In order to multiply, the virus needs an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to change its genetic material into DNA so it is able to insert itself into a CD4 cell and make new viruses. Emtricitabine is a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, or NRTI that works by blocking this action as a way of reducing the amount of virus is in your body, or viral load.
Tenofovir Disproxil Fumarate is a nucleotide reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NtRTI) which works similar to the NRTIs but is also a prodrug. This means that it is taken as Tenofovir Disproxil Fumarate but is changed into Tenofovir Diphosphate in your body. It then works on the same enzyme as Emtricitabine in order to stop the action required for the HIV virus to multiply and make new viruses. Truvada is not a cure for HIV or AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), but it can help prevent the HIV if you have been exposed to it, and treat your symptoms if you already have HIV.
HIV is basically just a set of instructions for creating new viruses that is wrapped up in some fat, sugar, and protein that waits for a living cell to hi-jack and insert its own form of DNA. The CD4 cells have a protein on its surface that HIV attaches to and, by using the reverse transcriptase enzyme, is able to reprogram the cell to become its own manufacturing plant for new viruses.
Your CD4, or T helper cells, help your body fight intruding germs and viruses and each day your body produces millions of them. As the virus takes them over, your immune system becomes compromised. Truvada can help to lower the amount of the HIV virus in your bloodstream to allow your CD4 cells to increase so it can help fight off other opportunistic infections you may have when your immune system was lowered.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are breast feeding before taking Truvada. Taking Truvada while pregnant has not shown to be harmful to babies but there is a registry that may request you sign up for to track your baby’s progress. You should not nurse your baby while taking Truvada as it has been found to be excreted into breast milk. Discuss other medical conditions you may have with your doctor and list any current OTC and Rx drugs you take or use, including herbal or vitamin supplements, to determine if Truvada is right for you.
If you experience unusual weakness, stomach pain, or vomiting and diarrhea while taking Truvada, seek medical help right away as this may be indications of lactic acidosis, a buildup of lactic acid in your blood. Truvada may also cause liver problems so it’s important to see your doctor regularly to monitor any negative effects.