Descovy vs Truvada

Disease Health News

You can avoid HIV by using condoms, abstaining from sexual activity, and not sharing needles. Additionally, PrEP, a class of HIV prevention drugs, is a possibility (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Currently, Truvada and Descovy are the only FDA-approved PrEP alternatives. Although these drugs have identical chemicals and are successful in preventing HIV infection, they cannot be used interchangeably. Continue reading to discover the main distinctions and parallels between Descovy vs Truvada. 

Descovy vs Truvada: Uses

Descovy vs Truvada
Descovy vs Truvada

What is Truvada (Emtricitabine-Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate) used for?

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or Truvada, is a once-daily prescription drug for HIV-at-risk adults and adolescents who weigh at least 77 pounds. It reduces the possibility of contracting HIV through intercourse. HIV-negative status is required both before and throughout Truvada for PrEP use. Only those at risk of contracting HIV-1 and weighing at least 77 pounds are eligible for Truvada for PrEP.

What is Descovy (Emtricitabine-Tenofovir Alafenamide) used for?

For adults and adolescents at risk of HIV, Descovy for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a once-daily prescription drug. It lessens the likelihood of contracting HIV through intercourse. It’s not for everyone to use Descovy for PrEP.

Due to the lack of research on its efficacy, it is not recommended for use in those who were designated female at birth and are at risk of contracting HIV through vaginal sex. HIV negative status is required both before and after taking Descovy for PrEP.

Descovy vs Truvada for PrEP?

Descovy vs Truvada for PrEP
Descovy vs Truvada for PrEP

Simply explained, PrEP enables those without HIV to take medications to fend off an infection. These drugs include Descovy (Emtricitabine/Tenofovir Alafenamide) and Truvada (Emtricitabine/Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate).

HIV can pass from one person to another through specific bodily fluids. These include vaginal and rectal fluids, blood, breast milk, and semen. If you are exposed to one of these fluids that contain HIV, PrEP medicines can help you avoid contracting HIV. This exposure typically occurs after sexual activity or when sharing injectable supplies.

It’s vital to understand that PrEP does not offer protection from other STIs or pregnancy. If you’re attempting to avoid pregnancy, it’s intended to be used in conjunction with safer intercourse (like using condoms) to reduce your risk of contracting an STI. Another distinction between post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and PrEP.

Typically, Truvada is prescribed as part of a PEP regimen along with Either Raltegravir or Dolutegravir. Truvada or Descovy on its alone is a complete PrEP regimen.

Although PEP and PrEP are both intended to prevent HIV infection in uninfected people, PEP is administered within 72 hours of a potential exposure while PrEP is administered prior to potential exposure.

Descovy, despite being a more recent medicine than Truvada, is not always “better” or “safer.” Descovy has been on the market for a lot less time than Truvada, and we have a lot more data to support the usage of Truvada. Now, you have a complete understanding of Descovy vs Truvada for PrEP.

Who shouldn’t take PrEP?

Who shouldn’t take PrEP
Who shouldn’t take PrEP

Although PrEP is a great tool for HIV prevention, not everyone should use it. PrEP shouldn’t be used by people who are HIV positive right now. As was already noted, Truvada and Descovy aren’t enough to treat HIV on their own. A partial (incomplete) regimen for HIV could result in the virus developing resistance to the treatment, which could have adverse effects on health.

Because of this, in order to acquire prescription refills, you must take an HIV test before beginning PrEP and then every 3 months following. One of the ARVs in Descovy vs Truvada, tenofovir, can harm the kidneys. A more kidney-friendly variation of tenofovir is present in Descovy (more on that later). However, those with significant renal issues may not be able to use Truvada or Descovy for PrEP.

Last but not least, PrEP is permitted for adults and teenagers weighing at least 75 lbs. At this time, teenagers under the age of 18 who weigh less than 75 pounds are not eligible for PrEP.

Descovy vs Truvada: How is PrEP put to use?

PrEP makes use of antiretrovirals (ARVs), drugs that combat HIV like Truvada and Descovy. HIV cannot be treated with Truvada and Descovy alone; they can only stop it. It’s confusing.

Providers combine ARVs while treating HIV infections to more efficiently reduce the amount of virus in the body. Usually, two or more ARVs from at least two separate ARV pharmaceutical classes make up a full HIV regimen. Each class combats the pathogen in a unique way. HIV can avoid developing drug resistance by being treated with drugs that attack the virus using various mechanisms (or strategies).

Descovy vs Truvada: How do they work?

Two ARVs are present in Truvada and Descovy, but they all belong to the same drug class: nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). NRTIs function by preventing HIV from reproducing in the body, or creating copies of itself.

Although Truvada or Descovy don’t provide a comprehensive HIV treatment for those who already have the virus, they are quite effective in keeping those without the virus from becoming infected. They are employed in PrEP for this reason.

Your body increases the amount of medication in your tissues when you use PrEP pills, preparing you to fight the virus as soon as you are exposed. This quick action stops HIV from infecting CD4 T cells, which the virus infects and utilizes to replicate in your body.

Descovy vs Truvada Side Effects:

Descovy vs Truvada Side Effects
Descovy vs Truvada Side Effects

Descovy side effects include weariness, nausea, and diarrhea. The list of additional negative effects also includes headaches and tummy problems. Similar side effects are also possible with Truvada.

Typically, these side effects appear during the “start-up” phase and disappear after using PrEP for around three months. While Descovy may modestly raise LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, Truvada may marginally lower cholesterol levels.

Some patients may experience major and harmful adverse effects from taking Truvada. According to one medical study, Truvada can cause a decrease in bone density. For people who have osteoporosis or problems with bone density, it is not advised.

Renal toxicity may result from Truvada’s ability to disrupt the kidneys’ filtering abilities. Patients who already have kidney problems are not advised to take this drug. Regular blood tests are necessary for Truvada users to check their kidney and liver health.

Patients with renal problems may be prescribed Truvada at a lower dosage to reduce the risk of kidney damage. During clinical studies, patients taking Descovy did not have any of these side effects, and there are no patient testing needs at this time. For qualifying people with pre-existing conditions that Truvada may affect, this typically makes Descovy a superior option. However, the doctor treating the patient will decide what is best for them specifically.

It is significant to note that a medical study came to the conclusion that any bone density loss brought on by Truvada is reversible and that the typical drop in bone mineral density is fairly small.

In the Discover Trial, those who used Truvada reported more bouts of diarrhea, nausea, exhaustion, and abdominal pain than those who took Descovy. However, it’s possible that these variations in side effects aren’t significant enough to have an effect on treatment on descovy vs. truvada.

Rash or other symptoms of an allergic reaction could be more severe adverse effects of Descovy with Truvada. Additionally, these medications run the risk of degrading kidney function and lowering the bone mineral density.

Descovy vs Truvada Price:

Descovy vs Truvada Price
Descovy vs Truvada Price

Since there is a generic form of Truvada, it is the less expensive alternative when comparing the cash price of medications. Your out-of-pocket expenses and coverage, if you have insurance, typically depend on your particular plan. However, current federal guidelines mandate that insurers offer PrEP (with the related exams and testing) at no cost. With this development, a sizable obstacle is gone for those who have insurance.

However, Gilead, the company that makes both Truvada and Descovy, offers assistance programs to make your medication cheaper if you don’t have insurance. For instance, if you’re uninsured and eligible for their Medication Assistance Program, you might be able to receive Truvada for nothing. The CDC also provides a list of programs that can assist you in obtaining PrEP for nothing or at a reduced cost.

Costing: Descovy vs Truvada

  • Descovy (120mg/15mg) costs around $1900-$2500 for 30 tablets.
  • Truvada Generic (200mg/300mg) costs around $1700-$1800 for 30 tablets.
Medication Lowest Price Shop
Brand Descovy 200mg/10mg $863.86 Buy Now
Brand Truvada 200mg/245mg $362.54 Buy Now
Brand Descovy vs Truvada Cost

Descovy vs Truvada for Weight Gain:

Descovy vs Truvada for Weight Gain
Descovy vs Truvada for Weight Gain

Descovy may induce a modest amount of weight gain when used by those who are HIV-negative for PrEP—or at the very least, it might not stop normal weight gain as Truvada does. For cisgender men and presumably Transwomen, this is the situation (Descovy has not been studied for PrEP in Trans-masculine people or cisgender women).

After taking the drug for 48 weeks, cis men and Transwomen who took part in the DISCOVER investigation of Descovy for PrEP typically gained 1 kg (2.2 lbs). At weeks 12 and 24, those taking Truvada experienced a slight loss in weight; however, at weeks 36 and 48, this weight was back to normal.

Descovy vs Truvada: Is Descovy better than Truvada?

Both Descovy and Truvada are highly successful at preventing HIV in those who are at risk of contracting the disease. Descovy is a more recent drug that is better for bone and kidney health, but it hasn’t been evaluated in people who are at risk for HIV because they use injection drugs or receptive vaginal sex.

More research has been conducted on Truvada for PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), including on-demand PrEP dosing and utilizing it to reduce infection risk among injecting drug users. Hence, the physician decides on the correct medication for the right diagnosis made.

Descovy vs Truvada: How long does it take to work?

How long does it take for Descovy to work?

Quick action is taken by Descovy to lower the level of HIV in your body. Your doctor may do an HIV blood test if you’re taking Descovy for HIV treatment 2 to 8 weeks after starting or switching treatments. This is how long descovy takes to work. 

How long does it take for Truvada to work?

People can safely begin and stop using PrEP at various stages in their life with the right medical assistance. When beginning PrEP with Truvada, it is crucial to keep in mind that it typically takes at least 7 to 22 days of regular use for it to become fully effective.

The take-home message for Descovy vs Truvada:

Descovy and Truvada are both good choices for PrEP. There has been extensive research on the usage of Truvada, the first PrEP medicine to receive FDA approval. It is available as a branded or generic drug.

Descovy is a more recent drug that is better for bone and renal health. It is not currently utilized for those who take injectable drugs or are at risk of contracting HIV through receptive vaginal intercourse. It’s exclusively offered as a brand-name drug.

Ask your healthcare practitioner which choice is best for you if you’re interested in starting PrEP.


Why is Descovy only for Males?

Due to the lack of studies on its efficacy, it is not recommended for use in those who are at risk of contracting HIV through vaginal sex who were assigned females at birth. HIV negative status is required both before and while using Descovy for PrEP.

Does Descovy cause weight gain?

When taking Descovy, some adverse effects, such as fatigue, are self-limiting and typically go away within a few days to weeks. After a few months, other side effects like weight gain or sleep issues could peak.

How effective is Descovy?

Descovy has been shown to be 99.7% effective when used for PrEP. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, using condoms along with PrEP offers even greater HIV protection (CDC).

How effective is Truvada?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person who takes Truvada daily can reduce their risk of contracting HIV through sex by more than 99 percent and through injecting drugs by more than 74 percent.

Is generic Truvada Effective?

An extremely efficient HIV prevention medication is generic Truvada. Daily usage of PrEP, according to the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC), substantially lowers your chance of contracting HIV through intercourse. Both generic and branded PrEP are equally effective.

How long do Truvada side effects last?

Truvada for PrEP can cause several common side effects that frequently start appearing right away and typically last for one to two weeks. 

How long does it take for Descovy to work?

Quick action is taken by Descovy to lower the level of HIV in your body. Your doctor may do an HIV blood test if you’re taking Descovy for HIV treatment 2 to 8 weeks after starting or switching treatments.

Descovy vs Truvada: Can they cause liver damage?

 Yes, they can sometimes cause severe and even life threatening liver problems.