Descovy is taken orally every day with or without food for the prevention of HIV. More commonly known as pre-exposure prophylactic, or PrEP, Descovy is a once-daily prescription medication. After Truvada, Descovy is only the second drug brand name approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the prevention of HIV. Descovy is considered to be a highly effective PrEP when it is used correctly and consistently.
Descovy is prescribed for those who currently test HIV negative and do not engage in receptive vaginal sex. Each tablet contains 25 mg tenofovir alafenamide (TAF) and 200 mg emtricitabine (FTC). This combination of medicines may further lessen the risk of uncommon side effects on bones and kidneys. As a precaution for those with increased risk of bone disease, consider a bone density test before starting Descovy or another PrEP regimen.
Descovy should be stored in a cool, dry area with minimal exposure to sunlight or moisture. Bottles of Descovy often contain a desiccant, a small packaged substance that absorbs moisture, that should remain in the bottle until all tablets have been taken.
Descovy and HBV
Some liver conditions, such as hepatitis B, can be made worse by the use or cessation of Descovy, particularly in those co-infected with HIV or those on antiretroviral therapy. Since Descovy is not prescribed to those living with HIV, it’s crucial to be tested for Hepatitis B and HIV before beginning Descovy. The medical team at Nurx™ provides testing kits you can do at home. We’ll analyze your results and advise which medication for PrEP is right for you.
Descovy and Populations
Descovy is the most recent medication approved by the FDA for PrEP, but it’s not intended for all populations. Descovy works differently on rectal tissue than it does on vaginal tissue, and the FDA suggests Descovy is not recommended for those who engage in receptive vaginal sex. These populations include cisgender women and transgender men. Further studies are on the horizon to conduct additional testing of Descovy for these and other at-risk populations. If Descovy isn’t right for you, talk to a healthcare professional at Nurx to learn more about other PrEP options.
Descovy Side Effects
Very few side effects have been reported with the use of Descovy. The most common side effects that may accompany this medication are:
- Abdominal pain
Although uncommon, the risk for serious side effects may be increased when Descovy is combined with antiretroviral agents or other medications. If you experience any serious side effects, report them to your local health care provider.
- Weight gain
- Blood in urine
- Decreased appetite
- Increased thirst
- Muscle pain or cramping
- Swelling of the face or fingers
- Yellowing skin
Descovy may interact with certain prescription medications and over-the-counter meds or herbal supplements such as St. John’s wort. Talk to a member of our medical team at Nurx about medications or supplements you’re taking to find out if Descovy is right for you.
Descovy may interact with medications for renal function or impairment. Medications that affect metabolic function may be altered (elevated or depleted) when combined with Descovy.
For those with a history of renal failure or who have impaired liver function are advised to monitor creatine levels closely while taking Descovy. While incidences of renal failure while taking tenofovir are rare, a history of renal issues may increase your risks.
Descovy does not protect against other STIs or AIDS.
Reduce Your Risks Even Further
There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting HIV.
- Stick to the schedule – Descovy is most effective when it is taken every day. For Descovy to work best, a consistent level of medication must be present in your bloodstream to fight off the HIV virus. Set an alarm or a reminder so you don’t forget to take your medication at the same time each day.
- Use safe-sex practices – Help Descovy do its job even better by practicing safe-sex. Use condoms regularly and be transparent about your or your partner’s risk to exposure.
- Get tested – Regular testing at 3-month intervals is required while taking Descovy. This medication can have adverse effects if you are HIV positive, and testing ensures that Descovy is still the right medication for you.
- Speak with your Nurx medical provider to learn more about how you can get tested, pay for your medication, and get started with Descovy.
If you’re considering starting PrEP, there are a few things you want to keep in mind. Consult this list, and then talk to our medical team here at Nurx.
- You must be HIV negative – Descovy can interact negatively for someone with positive HIV status.
- You don’t engage in receptive vaginal sex – At the moment, Descovy is not prescribed for cisgender women and transgender men.
- You can make a commitment to your medication – For Descovy to be highly effective, it must be taken every day.
- Get tested for HIV – You will need to know your status before you can get a prescription for Descovy, and then get tested every three months while taking PrEP.
- Get tested for HBV – Descovy can impact hepatitis B and risk liver impairment.
- Get tested for other STIs – It’s good to know your overall health and whether or not your treatments will interfere with each other. Remember that PrEP does not protect against STIs like chlamydia, syphillis, or gonorrhea.
Descovy is the next answer in PrEP treatment and the prevention of HIV. Ensure you are negative for HIV and hepatitis B before starting Descovy. With correct and consistent use, Descovy can give you peace of mind in prevention and protection against HIV infection.