Medical symbolDirectory of Drugs: Prescription symbol Emtriva - Emtricitabine




What is Emtriva used for?

Emtriva is a type of medicine called an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NRTI). Emtriva helps to block HIV reverse transcriptase, a chemical in your body (enzyme) that is needed for HIV to multiply. Emtriva is always used with other anti-HIV medicines to treat people with HIV infection. Emtriva is for patients over 3 months of age. Emtriva has not been studied fully in adults over age 65.

Emtriva does not cure HIV infection or AIDS. The long-term effects of Emtriva are not known at this time.  Emtriva may lower the amount of HIV in the blood (viral load).  Emtriva may also help to increase the number of T cells called CD4 cells.  Lowering the amount of HIV in the blood lowers the chance of death or infections that happen when your immune system is weak (opportunistic infections).  People taking Emtriva may still get opportunistic infections or other conditions that happen with HIV infection.

Emtriva does not lower your chances of passing HIV to other people through sexual contact, sharing needles, or being exposed to blood.  For your health and the health of others, it is important to always practice safe sex and never use or share dirty needles.

It is very important that you see your healthcare provider regularly while taking Emtriva.

Who should not take Emtriva? 

Do not take Emtriva if you are allergic to Emtriva or any of its ingredients.

Special Warnings with Emtriva:

  • Some people who have taken medicines like Emtriva (a nucleoside analog) have developed a serious condition called lactic acidosis (buildup of an acid in the blood). Lactic acidosis can be a medical emergency and may need to be treated in the hospital.
  • Some people who have taken medicines like Emtriva have developed serious liver problems called hepatotoxicity, with liver enlargement and fat in the liver called steatosis.
  • You may be more likely to get lactic acidosis or liver problems if you are female, very overweight (obese), or have been taking nucleoside analog medicines, like Emtriva, for a long time.

General Precautions with Emtriva: 

  • Do not breast-feed. 
  • Avoid doing things that can spread HIV infection since Emtriva does not stop you from passing HIV infection to others. 
  • Do not share needles or other injection equipment. 
  • Do not share personal items that can have blood or body fluids on them, like toothbrushes or razor blades. 
  • Do not have sex of any kind without protection. Always practice safer sex by using a latex or polyurethane condom or other barrier to reduce the chance of sexual contact with semen, vaginal secretions, or blood.

What should I tell my healthcare provider?

Tell your healthcare provider:

  • if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • if you are breast-feeding.
  • if you have kidney problems.
  • if you have any liver problems including Hepatitis B Virus infection.
  • about all your medical conditions.
  • about all the medicines you take, such as prescription and non-prescription medicines and dietary supplements.

What are some possible side effects of Emtriva? (This is NOT a complete list of side effects reported with Emtriva. Your healthcare provider or pharmacist can discuss with you a more complete list of side effects.)  

Serious side effects with Emtriva include:

  • lactic acidosis 
  • serious liver problems
  • “flare-ups” of hepatitis B virus infection. Patients with hepatitis B virus infection, who take Emtriva and then stop it, may get “flare-ups” of their hepatitis. A “flare-up” is when the disease suddenly returns in a worse way than before. Emtriva is not for the treatment of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection. 

Some common side effects with Emtriva include:

  • changes in body fat distribution
  • headache
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • rash
  • skin discoloration

The long-term effects of Emtriva are not known at this time.

Date created: August 27, 2003

Updated:  August 9, 2006



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