What is Descovy Medication Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Descovy Medication Used For? Side Effects and Dosage

What is Descovy?

Descovy is a fixed-dose anti-HIV pill containing emtricitabine/tenofovir alafenamide. Tenofovir alafenamide, also known as TAF, is in the drug class nucleotide analogues, while emtricitabine, also known as FTC, is in the drug class nucleoside analogues. Descovy is manufactured by Gilead Sciences.

What is This Medication Used For?

Descovy ingredients are used as part of antiretroviral therapy, or ART, which helps treat HIV. While there is no current cure for HIV, ART helps to slow down or stop the spread of the virus within the blood. Both ingredients in Descovy are used to interfere with the enzyme reverse transcriptase (RT), which plays a role in producing new viruses with HIV-infected cells. When the enzyme is inhibited, fewer viruses are produced.

Descovy is used in combination with other antriretroviral drugs, typically those from different drug classes, such as protease inhibitors, integrase inhibitors, and/or non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs).  

How to Take It  

Descovy is an oral pill that is taken once daily with or without food. It is mean to be taken in combination with other antiretroviral medications.

Descovy Side Effects

This combination pill is known to be safe and well-tolerated. However, there are some adverse effects associated with its use. If you experience any severe side effects, stop taking the drug and contact a doctor immediately.

Common Side Effects

  • Headache
  • Lack of energy or tiredness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Severe Side Effects

  • Rash
  • Inflammation of the stomach lining
  • Vomiting
  • Depression


Descovy is available in two different dosage strengths: 210mg tablets and 225mg tablets. The 210mg strength tablet is grey in color and contains 10mg of tenofovir alafenamide and 200mg of emtricitabine. The 225mg strength tablet is blue in color and contains 25mg of tenofovir alafenamide and 200mg of emtricitabine. The standard adult dose for Descovy is 1 pill taken once a day. However, the strength of the pill prescribed is based on the other medications in the patient’s ART regimen.

The manufacturer who makes Descovy recommends the lower strength tablets for people who are taking protease inhibitors with boosting agents such as ritonavir and cobicistat. For people who are taking NNRTIs, integrase inhibitors, and/or co-receptor blockers, the manufacturer recommends the higher dose tablet. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist and discuss what other medications you are taking in order to determine the right dose of Descovy for you.

Disclaimer: Please note that the contents of this article are for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. This article, and other AIDS and HIV Information articles on AIDS Drugs Online, are not written by AIDS Drugs Online or reviewed by its staff for medical validity. All views and opinions expressed by the third-party authors are not endorsed by AIDS Drugs Online or its staff. Always consult a medical professional for medical advice.


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