Emtricitabine is used along with other medications to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Emtricitabine is in a class of medications called nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). It works by decreasing the amount of HIV in the blood. Although emtricitabine does not cure HIV, it may decrease your chance of developing acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and HIV-related illnesses such as serious infections or cancer. Taking these medications along with practicing safer sex and making other life-style changes may decrease the risk of transmitting (spreading) the HIV virus to other people.

Side Effects Of Emtricitabine

Emtricitabine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • headache
  • change in skin color, especially on the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet
  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • joint pain
  • unusual dreams
  • depression
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • numbness, burning or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • runny nose
  • sinus pain

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those mentioned in the WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:

  • fever, chills, sore throat, cough, or other signs of infection
  • rash
  • shortness of breath
  • fast breathing
  • fast or abnormal heartbeat
  • pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • dark yellow or brown urine
  • light-colored bowel movements
  • yellowing of skin or eyes
  • loss of appetite
  • weakness
  • feeling cold, especially in the arms or legs
  • extreme tiredness
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • muscle pain

Emtricitabine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

Warnings & Precautions

Before taking emtricitabine:

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to emtricitabine, any other medications. or any of the ingredients in emtricitabine capsules and oral solution. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: other HIV medications containing emtricitabine (Atripla, Complera, Descovy, Genvoya, Odefsey, Stribild, Truvada) or containing lamivudine (Combivir, Epivir, Epivir-HBV, Epzicom, Triumeq, Trizivir, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you more carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had the conditions mentioned in the WARNING section, any type of infection that does not go away or that comes and goes such as tuberculosis (TB; a type of lung infection) or cytomegalovirus (CMV; a viral infection that may cause symptoms in patients with weak immune systems), or liver or kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking emtricitabine, call your doctor. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed if you are infected with HIV or if you are taking emtricitabine.
  • you should know that while you are taking medications to treat HIV infection, your immune system may get stronger and begin to fight other infections that were already in your body. This may cause you to develop symptoms of those infections. If you have new or worsening symptoms after starting treatment with emtricitabine, be sure to tell your doctor.

Emtricitabine Dosage

Emtricitabine comes as a capsule and an oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with or without food. Take emtricitabine at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take emtricitabine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Emtricitabine controls HIV infection but does not cure it. Continue to take emtricitabine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking emtricitabine without talking to your doctor. When your supply of emtricitabine starts to run low, get more from your doctor or pharmacist. If you miss doses or stop taking emtricitabine, your condition may become more difficult to treat.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.


Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

Keep a supply of emtricitabine on hand. Do not wait until you run out of medication to refill your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.