Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide are highly effective medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of HIV infection, and control of HIV in infected people when used in combination with other HIV drugs. Interested in learning more about these meds? Read more.
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High rates of adherence have been observed amongst users of this drug, the reason being convenience, i.e. only 1 capsule needs to be taken once daily before or after a meal. This drug effectively decreases HIV viral load, eventually giving room for the immune system to recuperate and function better. It also reduces the chances of infected individuals being exposed to opportunistic infections such as cancer. If this drug is used correctly, it can greatly improve the patients' quality of life.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide is a combination drug marketed under the brand name Descovy. These two active ingredients are combined in one pill that is to be taken once daily, with other HIV drugs for the effective treatment of HIV. It is a relatively recent drug approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the treatment of HIV infected children and adults who weigh up to 35 kg (77 lb) when used together with other antiretrovirals (ARV).
Tenofovir alafenamide (TAF), one of the active ingredients of this regimen, is similar to TDF (tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), one of the active ingredients in Viread. However, unlike TDF, in the combination regimen, TAF can be used in much lower doses and still be highly effective. This makes it safer for use, in the sense that certain reactions or side effects such as kidney- and bone-related issues associated with Viread due to TDF concentration in the combination will be absent or at least greatly reduced.
The drug is available in two different forms, the difference being the concentration of tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) in each. While one of the forms of this drug contains 10 mg of TAF in the tenofovir alafenamide-emtricitabine combination, the other form contains 25 mg. Depending on the other drugs that are a part of an HIV patient’s combination, the healthcare provider will decide which form to issue.
It is worthy of note that the combination of emtricitabine and TAF cannot be used alone for comprehensive HIV treatment, It must be taken alongside other HIV drugs. Very importantly, this regimen does not have FDA approval to be used for PrEP and should not be used, as an effective study is yet to be carried out for this indication. Truvada still remains available for use as PrEP.
HIV uses an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to reproduce and spread throughout the body. Without this enzyme, the virus will be unable to replicate, attack, and weaken the immune system of the infected individual. HIV-infected cells kickstart the replication process, thus creating more and more HIV copies to suppress immune function.
Since this regimen inhibits reverse transcriptase, it disrupts the activity of this enzyme (reverse transcriptase) that allows HIV to replicate in the infected cells.
As a result, this drug combined together in one pill reduces the patient’s viral load, eventually up to a point when the virus becomes undetectable. Though this drug does not provide a lasting solution to HIV or AIDS, it can prevent further damage to the immune system and thus, shut out opportunistic infections. Opportunistic infections are infections that affect people with a very weak or destroyed immune system.
HIV treatments work best if they are followed as prescribed; the same applies to emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide. To get the best out of this regimen, the drug should be taken once per day and at the same time, with or without food.
Below are the main usage rules of this drug:
Your healthcare provider should be informed if you skip a dose, or have to stop your treatment for any reason.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir AF should be taken once daily. It can be taken with or without food. Users are advised to take the pills at a specific time every day to help prevent skipping doses. The dosage may vary depending on an individual’s medical condition and other HIV drugs being taken together with it.
|User category||Dose per day|
|Adults||1 (200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir AF)|
|Adolescents weighing 35 kg or more||1 (200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir AF)|
|Adolescents weighing 25 to 34 kg||1 (200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir AF)|
The safety and efficacy of this drug have only been established in children weighing 25 kg to 34 kg and receiving concomitant antiretroviral drugs other than protease inhibitors, like elvitegravir and cobicistat. For children weighing less than 25 kg, infants, and neonates, the effectiveness and safety of the drug have not been established.
If a dose of this drug is missed at any point in time, it should be taken as soon as remembered. However, if the time it is remembered is close to the period of taking another dose (within six hours), the forgotten dose should no longer be taken. A double dose should never be taken. It is important to strictly adhere to prescriptions and not skip any doses.
Please seek the assistance of your healthcare provider to help with prescribing the right dosage for this medication. This is of utmost importance.
When tenofovir AF and emtricitabine is taken together with other HIV medicines, it is highly effective in controlling HIV infection. However, just like every other drug, it has some adverse effects that users may experience with its use. Irrespective of these possible adverse effects, TAF and emtricitabine are considered great for HIV treatment as its benefits outweigh its downside. Moreover, it is a new HIV medicine and has fewer adverse effects compared to some others.
Side effects are split into two types:
The most common adverse effect associated with this drug is nausea. Dizziness, stomach pain, headache, vomiting, abnormal dreams, fatigue, rash, and flatulence are other common adverse reactions.
Certain drugs do not go well together, and taking two or more of such drugs may cause adverse effects. It is very important for patients taking HIV medicines to inform their healthcare providers of any other meds they are taking. This includes meds bought over-the-counter (OTC), supplements, recreational drugs, and herbal treatments.
This med is known to interact with some of the drugs used to treat hepatitis B. Some of these drugs include:
Also, interactions take place with antivirals used to treat hepatitis C, St. John's wort herbal remedy, and common meds like antibiotics. Though this combination drug is an effective treatment for HIV, drug interaction can stop one or both meds from working.
A majority of patients who use this medication speak positively of the effectiveness and ease of use.
It is considered to be an HIV preventive drug with few side effects, as only a few users experience them.
Besides complaints about these side effects such as dizziness, stomach pain, headache and vomiting, lots of users have expressed their satisfaction with the drug. Generally, in most cases, the adverse effects disappear within 2 to 3 weeks of proper use, as the body adapts to the drug.
There are also a few negative reports associated with the use of this drug. However, there are required guidelines to follow for proper use of the drug and incorrect usage could well be a cause of the negative reviews.
Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide fumarate tablets are available for purchase at online pharmacies. However, this drug, as well as others, should only be bought from certified stores to ensure that only high-grade versions that will be effective are obtained.
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