How Does Truvada Work?

The development of medicines for the treatment of HIV did not start today, it started in the 1980s. However, over time, much better drugs have been formulated. Today, we have Truvada, a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate that effectively manages HIV-1 (when used with other HIV medicines), and prevents it through PrEP.

Truvada is tolerable, poses very few adverse effects and users show no resistance to it. By slowing down the rate at which the virus replicates the drug is able to bring down HIV viral load to levels where it is undetectable. It also happens to be one of the most effective treatments for hepatitis B.

💊What Is Truvada Used For?

Truvada is used for two main purposes. They include:

  • PrEP;
  • management and control of HIV, when used together with other antiretrovirals (ARVs).

For PrEP: PrEP, the acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis is a strategy or procedure that involves the use of Truvada (a combination of emtricitabine and tenofovir) to help protect non-infected people who are at a high risk of contracting HIV, against getting infected [1].

Truvada used in the anti-HIV prevention strategy (PrEP) is to be taken daily and to be combined with safe sexual practices such as the use of condoms and frequent HIV testing. People who intend to take Truvada must run a series of HIV tests to confirm that they test negative before starting the procedure. Also, they must weigh at least 34 kg to be qualified to begin preventive treatment.

It is worthy of note that PrEP does not safeguard against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or pregnancy. To determine if Truvada is right for you, talk to a doctor about your risk of contracting the virus.

For management and control of HIV: Truvada alone is not effective in the control and management of HIV. Hence, it is combined with other antiretrovirals to improve its efficacy so it will be capable of reducing the viral load to undetectable levels. This will only take place if the prescription is strictly adhered to.

Whether Truvada is to be used as PrEP treatment or as a drug for the management and control of HIV, it is best not to run out of the pills. This is because the treatment is not to be stopped abruptly, to prevent a fast increase in viral load (for those infected) and unknown exposure to risks (for PrEP users). A good refill plan for prescription should be drawn so that you never run out of pills. A good way to make sure of this is by bulk purchasing (i.e. buying Truvada in bulk).

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🎗How Does Truvada Work to Prevent HIV Infection?

When HIV-1 enters the body it infects several cells very fast. In turn, the infected cells use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to replicate, increasing the number of HIV copies in the body. This process goes on and on until the virus is able to establish a permanent infection.

Truvada is made up of two individual active ingredients which belong to a class of drugs called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors. They include:

  • tenofovir;
  • emtricitabine.

These two ingredients contained in Truvada inhibits reverse transcriptase which in turn slows down or halts the replication process.

When used as an anti-HIV treatment, it is expected that a pill of Truvada is taken every day to prevent the virus from permanently infecting an individual in the event of an exposure.

It is worth noting that Truvada must be used correctly (without skipping doses) whether it is used in combination with other ARVs in the control of HIV, or for PrEP.

⌛How Long Does Truvada Take to Work?

The question, “how long does it take for Truvada to start working once administered,” is one that has been occurring very frequently. So, to provide answers to this question, scientists went to work. Results from one finding were presented in Washington, D.C., at the 15th International Workshop on Clinical Pharmacology.

The trial which involved extensive testing of 21 HIV-negative volunteers who were placed on Truvada enabled the researchers to reach a conclusion that max protection in rectal tissue, vaginal tissues, and in the blood (for PrEP) could be attained within 7 days, 20 days and 20 days respectively, on the average.

However, Jonathan Schapiro an organizing committee member of the international pharmacology workshop has advised that 7 days should not be taken as how long it takes for Truvada to attain maximum protection. His reason is based on the thinking that unmeasured factors in the trials might have produced this number, and that response may most likely vary from one person to the other [2].

Generally, there is yet no fact-backed answer on how long it takes Truvada to start working after administration. However, certain studies suggest just as the one discussed above, that it takes 20 days for the drug to attain maximum protection in the blood and in vaginal tissues, and 7 days for rectal tissues. Individuals should discuss with their healthcare provider to know when they will find PrEP effective.

More information about Truvada, its effectiveness, correct usage/dosage tips, and where to get it can be obtained from HIVPrEP.

HIVPrEP is a reliable online platform with lots of valuable resources for updated information on issues surrounding HIV. If you are looking to commence the preventive treatment with Truvada, you can visit our site for up-to-date answers to any questions you may have.


  1. Drug information on Truvada. Retrieved February 15, 2019
  2. Pharmacokinetic analysis of Truvada. Julie “JD” Davids for TheBodyPro. Retrieved June 10, 2014
Logan Morris

Expert in pharmaceutical practice and antiviral medicine, founder of HIVPrEP. Main goal is to popularize HIV topics and create awareness for global masses on how to prevent the disease and how to use HIV medication safely.

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