About Descovy: Uses, Side effects and Interactions

Research Based
Medically reviewed by - Dr Qudsiya Raiees, MD Written by - Dr. Shilpa R


What is Descovy?

Descovy is a tablet containing a combination of two active drugs, tenofovir alafenamide fumarate (TAF) and emtricitabine, which are both types of anti-HIV drugs, known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). Descovy is mainly used to treat (HIV) Human immunodeficiency virus infection and is often prescribed with other antiretroviral medications. is mainly used to treat (HIV) Human immunodeficiency virus infection and is often prescribed with other antiretroviral medications.1Overview| Researched based study from

This article will provide an in-depth overview of Descovy, exploring its mode of action, metabolism, uses, dosage, administration, side effects, precautions, and drug interactions.

Descovy is mainly used to treat (HIV) Human immunodeficiency virus infection and is often prescribed with other antiretroviral medications.


Uses of Descovy

Descovy is primarily used for:

  • Treating HIV-1 infection.
  • As an HIV-1 pre-exposure prophylaxis.

Treatment of HIV-1 infection

  • Descovy is used along with other medications for treating HIV-1 infection in adults and children weighing 25 kg or more.
  • However, there must be no history of therapy failure or known mutations linked with resistance to the individual components of Descovy in the patients.

As an HIV-1 pre-exposure prophylaxis

  • Descovy is also recommended for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, in at-risk adults and children weighing at least 35 kg.2Uses| Researched based study from
  • It is not recommended for use in females at risk of obtaining HIV through vaginal intercourse since its efficacy has not been studied.3Uses| Researched based study from

How does it work?

  • Descovy exerts its therapeutic effects by inhibiting the reverse transcriptase enzyme, which is essential for the replication of HIV.
  • By blocking this enzyme, Descovy helps to prevent the virus from multiplying and spreading throughout the body, thereby reducing the viral load and slowing down the progression of HIV infection.


Descovy Dosage

Descovy is typically available in the form of tablets to be swallowed and may include two dose strengths:

  • Emtricitabine 200 mg and tenofovir alafenamide 25 mg.
  • 120 mg of Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide 15 mg4Dosage| Researched based study from

Dosage to treat HIV-1 infection

Among adults and children weighing 35 kg or more:

  • Once daily administration of one 200 mg/25 mg emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide tablet is the typical dosage advised for HIV treatment.
  • This requires using Descovy in conjunction with additional HIV drugs.

Children under 35 kgs:

  • From 14 kg to 25 kg – one tablet of 120-mg emtricitabine/15-mg tenofovir alafenamide taken once per day.
  • From 25 kg to 35 kg – one tablet of 200-mg emtricitabine/25-mg tenofovir alafenamide taken once per day.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis dosage for HIV-1

For adults and children weighing at least 35 kg :

  • The dosage suggested normally for (PrEP) pre-exposure prophylaxis is a once-daily 200 mg emtricitabine/25 mg tenofovir alafenamide tablet.
  • Descovy is used along when used for this purpose.

The dosage of Descovy may vary depending on individual patient factors, including age, weight, renal function, and other coexisting medical conditions, and should always be determined by the doctor.

How to take it?

  • The normal dosage is one Descovy tablet per day, with or without food.5Dosage| Researched based study from
  • To avoid missing a dose, take Descovy at the same time daily.
  • To acquire the optimum therapeutic response, it is necessary to adhere to the recommended dosing schedule.

Side effects

Side effectsf Descovy.

Side effects of Descovy

Some side effects of descovy that are common may include:

  • Nausea
  • Headache 6Side effects| Researched based study from
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flatulence
  • Itching
  • Skin rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat

Most of descovy’s side effects last a few days to a few weeks and it they are more severe and don’t go away, consult a doctor immediately.

In rare cases, descovy may cause more severe side effects, such as:

Symptoms of Liver dysfunction:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Abdominal pain

Kidney problems

  • Urinating less often.
  • Reduction in urine output.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Weakness.

Lactic acidosis – lactic acid accumulation in the blood

  • Fruity-smelling breath
  • Muscle pain
  • Cold hands or feet
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Abnormal heartbeat

Immune reconstitution syndrome – Exaggerated immune response

Any unusual or severe adverse effects of Descovy must be reported immediately to a doctor.


Contraindications of Descovy

  • Worsening of Hepatitis B infection – Descovy may cause severe hepatitis B worsening in particular people with hepatitis B. It’s also been observed in some patients who have stopped taking Descovy.7Contraindications| Researched based study from
  • Resistance to Descovy – People who use Descovy to help prevent HIV but have undiagnosed HIV may acquire resistance to one or both of the active medicines in Descovy. When HIV develops resistance to one or both of Descovy’s ingredients, the pill no longer effectively treats HIV.
  • Allergy – Descovy should not be taken by people who have experienced an allergic response to it or any of its constituents. Ask the doctor if alternative medications would be better.



  • May cause kidney issues – Before prescribing Descovy and while taking it, the doctor should perform blood and urine tests to assess the patient’s kidney function. Descovy can potentially develop new kidney issues or exacerbate existing kidney issues in some people. 7Precautions| Researched based study from
  • Can trigger liver problems – Descovy has the potential to harm a person’s liver and should not be taken by anyone who has a liver illness.
  • May reduce bone density – Descovy has been observed to diminish bone mineral density in people who take it and should be avoided by people with bone difficulties.8Precautions| Researched based study from
  • Can cause lactic acidosis – Descovy should be stopped in patients who develop lactic acidosis symptoms like fruit-smelling breath, muscle aches, etc.
  • Pregnant women – should avoid Descovy as it is not known if it is safe to take during pregnancy.
  • Can’t prevent other STIs – Descovy is not used to prevent other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and must be taken as part of a comprehensive preventative approach that includes other preventive measures.9Precautions| Researched based study from


Descovy interactions

  • Protease inhibitors – such as tipranavir or ritonavir, can reduce TAF’s effectiveness by lowering its concentration in the blood and should not be taken simultaneously. 4Interactions| Researched based study from
  • Ciclosporin – Because ciclosporin increases the amount of Descovy in the blood, the doctor may reduce the Descovy dose in people also taking ciclosporin. 10Interactions| Researched based study from
  • Antibiotics and antifungals – Some antibiotics and antifungals can potentially alter the amount of Descovy in the blood. Before administering anti-HIV medications, the doctor must check for drug interactions.10Interactions| Researched based study from
  • Antiepileptics – such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, and phenobarbital, can reduce the quantity of Descovy in the blood, and the doctor will need to know whether the patient is on any antiepileptic drugs before recommending an anti-HIV treatment regimen.10Interactions| Researched based study from
  • St John’s wort for depression – Descovy is not advised to be co-administered because St. John’s wort may cause less Descovy to be present in the blood.10Interactions| Researched based study from

Before taking Descovy, it is recommended that people discuss all the medications they are currently taking, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal drugs, and supplements, as the above list of drug interactions does not cover all the medications known to interact with Descovy.

Bottom line

The Bottom Line

Descovy is generally well-tolerated and offers several health benefits in managing HIV. It has demonstrated a lower risk of specific adverse effects on renal and bone health compared to older formulations of tenofovir. Regular monitoring of kidney function and bone density may be recommended during treatment. Before starting Descovy, discussing any pre-existing medical conditions and potential drug interactions with your healthcare provider is essential.

Disclaimer: The user acknowledges that this article's information is being offered for informational purposes only. Every attempt has been made to guarantee that the article is informational and correct. If they have any doubts or questions about their health, we firmly advise our readers to visit a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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