What is Truvada
Truvada is a branded version of the medicine PrEP, which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s used to prevent HIV in people that are classed as at “high risk” of contracting it. Truvada contains the ingredients tenovofir and emtricitabine which are also used to treat people that have already been diagnosed with HIV, but in different quantities. Truvada can’t treat HIV, only prevent it.
If a person at high risk of HIV takes Truvada daily, they are around 90% less likely to contract the infection. A “high risk” person is usually contrituted as a person that has multiple sexual partners and doesn’t always use barrier methods.
How does Truvada work?
To understand how truvada works in the body, we need to look at how HIV is contracted. HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus, and is a sexually transmitted infection. HIV can also be passed on through blood, hence why injecting drug users are also at risk of infection.
If a person contracts HIV, they usually notice flu-like symptoms around 2 weeks after infection, and these can last for several weeks. Over time, HIV weakens the immune system and makes it harder for affected people to fight off infections, and if the condition goes untreated for a long time, it may even turn into AIDS; something which can carry a death sentence.
In people that don’t use PrEP, HIV enters the cells in the body and starts to wreak havoc on the immune system. However, Truvada contains tenofovir and emtricitabine, both antiretroviral drugs which stop the infection from penetrating cells and taking hold. This means that someone with a HIV-negative status would likely remain clear even when having sex with someone of HIV-positive status.
Of course, we recommend barrier methods as an additional form of protection, especially if you know that your partner has HIV or AIDS, but Truvada can potentially save the lives of sexually active men and women who are unaware of their partners’ STI status.
How effective is Truvada? Can Truvada cure HIV?
Unfortunately, not. There’s currently no cure for HIV but Truvada can go a long way towards preventing the spread of the infection. If you’ve already been diagnosed with HIV, please speak to your doctor or visit your nearest sexual health clinic for advice on what you can do.
If you’re unsure whether you have HIV or not, you should get tested as soon as possible. You can do this at the following places:
- GP surgeries
- Sexual health clinics
- GUM clinics
- Charities such as the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT)
- Private clinics
- Online (by ordering a home testing kit)
If your result comes back positive, you’ll be able to take post-exposure prophylaxis which can lower the amount of the virus in your system, often to an undetectable level.
How do you take Truvada?
At the moment, the general advice is that Truvada should be taken once daily for maximum protection. For the first week or so, you might want to use barrier methods such as condoms whilst having sex until the drug has built up enough in your system to protect you from infection.
Trials are taking place to investigate whether Truvada can be taken “on-demand”, both before and after sex for several days.
Truvada comes in tablet form and should be swallowed whole with a glass of water.
How can I access Truvada in the UK?
The availability of Truvada and the generic version of PrEP (made to the exact same standards) vary depending on where you live.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, you can access the medication for free on the NHS. You can visit any sexual health clinic and have a chat with a nurse who’ll be able to prescribe it to you if they think you’re at high risk of contracting HIV.
If you live in Wales, you can also get the drug from a sexual health clinic, as they’re currently doing an uncapped pilot. You won’t need to pay for the medication.
However, if you live in England, things get a little bit trickier. PrEP isn’t currently available through NHS England unless you’ve been accepted into the impact trial. Although places have been doubled, you must fit certain criteria to be accepted onto the program. Your only other option for accessing the vital medication is to buy it online. Unfortunately, this can be a risky business due to counterfeit and dangerous pills being sold to people, masquerading as PrEP. Doctor4U is proud to be a genuine supplier of PrEP, and we can guarantee safety and confidentiality. Whilst you do have to pay for a private prescription, it may be one of the only options unless the NHS introduces the medicine in the future.
What are the side effects of Truvada?
Most people don’t really experience any side effects when taking PrEP, but some that have been reported are as follows:
- Abdominal pain
- Joint pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Strange dreams
- Back pain
If you’re concerned about any of the above side effects, or experience any of these symptoms whilst taking Truvada, please talk to your GP. It might help to think about whether the benefits of the medicine outweigh the risks and side effects before thinking about stopping treatment.
Does Truvada protect you straight away?
No. Clinical trials have shown that PrEP takes between 4-7 days to reach its full potential in your system, so it’s a good idea to use barrier methods until then to make sure you’re protected against HIV.
Is Truvada safe for me to take?
Even if you are considered to be at high risk of getting HIV, you may not be able to get Truvada prescribed under certain health-related circumstances.
For instance, you may not be able to use this medication if you have been diagnosed with a current issue with your kidneys, including a kidney disease, or you are currently on dialysis. You should consult your doctor first if you have such an issue. You should also speak to your doctor if you are intolerant to lactose, since this is contained in Truvada tablets. Also consult your doctor if you are aged over 65.
You also need to speak to your doctor about any other medications that you are currently using before you start taking Truvada tablets. Truvada should not be taken at the same time as other medicines which also contain emtricitabine or tenofovir.
Certain other medicines could also damage your kidneys if you are not careful. Inform your doctor if you wish to be prescribed Truvada and you are currently taking any of the following medication:
- Aminoglycosides (for treating bacterial infections)
- Amphotericin B (for treating fungal infections)
- Cidofovir (for treating viral infections)
- Foscarnet (for treating viral infections)
- Ganciclovir (for treating viral infections)
- Interleukin-2 (for treating cancer)
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Pentamidine (for treating infections)
- Vancomycin (for treating bacterial infections)
How is my order shipped to me?
When an order is ready for shipping, it is collected and delivered by either the Royal Mail or DPD depending on your preference (or possibly your location or the item you ordered). Each order is assigned a tracking number, which will be emailed to you at the time of dispatch. Your medicine will be sent in plain and discreet packaging that’s eco-friendly. We do not include any branding on our packaging nor any labels which inform readers what type of product is contained within.
Advice on Addiction and Medication Restrictions
If you are at all worried or concerned about an addiction to any type of medication, we urge you to speak to a professional for help and advice. Below are links to organisations that can help.
Talk To Frank
NHS Help & Advice On Drug Addiction