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Tenofovir and emtricitabine (for HIV prevention - PrEP)

ten-off-oh-veer and em-try-si-tab-een

What does it do?

Tenofovir and emtricitabine is used to reduce the chance of getting HIV for people at high risk.
It is also used with other medicines to control HIV (see separate sheets).

How should you take it?

Take tenofovir and emtricitabine as directed with food and a glass of water. It is very important to take it regularly. If you often forget to take it, it may not work as well.
Good protection starts after 7 days of daily use but maximum protection can take 20 days. Discuss your individual situation and your chance of getting HIV with your doctor.
You need to keep taking tenofovir and emtricitabine for 28 days after your last potential HIV exposure to be protected.

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 and emtricitabine including:

  • anti-inflammatories, such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren®) or ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen®). 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

Tell your doctor immediately

Headache, dizziness, tiredness or weakness

Trouble sleeping, strange dreams

Joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Cough, runny or blocked nose

Darkening of skin or fingernails

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 kidney or liver problems, or if you have ever had Hepatitis B or C.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • You will need regular blood tests while taking tenofovir and emtricitabine to check if it is causing problems with your kidneys or liver. You will also need tests for HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
  • Tenofovir and emtricitabine do not protect you from STIs.
  • You can read more about PrEP at .

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. June 2018

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