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What does it do?

Tenofovir is used to treat hepatitis B, or with other medicines to control HIV.

How should you take it?

Take tenofovir as directed with food and a glass of water. It is very important to take it regularly. If you often forget to take tenofovir, it may not work as well.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Can you take other medicines?

Some medicines available without a prescription may react with tenofovir including:

  • anti-inflammatories, such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren®), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen®) or aspirin (e.g. Disprin®). These can also be found in some cold and flu medicines (e.g. Nurofen Cold and Flu®).
  • orlistat (Xenical®)

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Increased risk of infection - symptoms may include: fever, chills, sore throat, aches and pains, tiredness, pain when peeing, mouth ulcers

Severe stomach pain, nausea

Tell your doctor immediately

Headache, dizziness, tiredness or weakness, trouble sleeping

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Stomach upset

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney problems.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • You will need regular blood tests while taking tenofovir to check if it is causing problems with your liver or kidneys. You will also need blood tests to check your viral load.
  • Tenofovir belongs to a group of medicines that have caused a serious condition called lactic acidosis. Contact your doctor immediately if you suddenly feel very unwell or unusually tired, or if your breathing becomes faster than normal.
  • As your HIV comes under control, your immune system begins to recover. It may start fighting infections better than before which may make you unwell for a while. Your doctor may call this Immune Reconstitution Syndrome.
  • Treatment for HIV may change your body shape. These changes can include fat build-up, fat loss, or both. Discuss this with your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking tenofovir without talking to your doctor first.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. December 2017

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed