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Truvada Side Effects: Most Common and How to Manage Them

Truvada Side Effects: Most Common and How to Manage Them

The most common side effects of Truvada (what is Truvada article here) as listed by Gilead are headaches, abdominal pain and weight loss. But you can experience other side effects when taking this PrEP drug. There are some short term and long term side effects you should be aware of to best manage discomfort.


Some of the side effects you can experience when you first start taking Truvada are:


  • dizziness,
  • nausea,
  • diarrhea,
  • vomiting,
  • stomach pain,
  • joint pain,
  • back pain,
  • skin rash  or itching,
  • headache,
  • depression,
  • trouble sleeping,


Another common side effect people report when on PrEP medications like Truvada is hair loss. There is direct mention about hair loss as a side effects on most reference materials online, but many people link loosing hair to stress you can experience while looking at the possibility of being infected.

As to other most commonly reported side effects like headaches, changes in body fat around your body or weight loss and pain in the abdominal section, it is important you keep an eye on each of them and take steps to manage them. Let’s review why taking Truvada can produce some of these issues and how to best manage them.


Acute and severe headache should be evaluated carefully. Patients with low CD4 count may experience headache. Other possible causes include medication toxicity, infections, brain malignancies, and HIV-related diseases. If there are no underlying diseases linked to the symptoms, it can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), acetaminophen, or narcotics for pain control. Other steps that can help with headache:

  • Eat regularly and drink adequate amount of fluids;
  • Use cold compress over your forehead and eyes;
  • Massage the base of your skull with your thumbs;
  • Ask your doctor what pain reliever is best for you.

Abdominal Pain

Upset stomach, vomiting, poor appetite, and abdominal pain are common side effects of ART. These symptoms usually resolve in a few weeks. Consult your doctor if you’re having stomach pain for several days in a row, especially if it’s accompanied with vomiting. To settle an upset stomach with accompanying pain:

  • Take BRAT Diet (bananas, white rice, applesauce, and toast);
  • Avoid greasy, hot, and spicy foods;
  • Eat dry foods such as dry cereal, toast, and crackers;
  • Sip peppermint, chamomile, or ginger tea.

Weight Loss

People with HIV may have long-term loss of appetite, resulting to significant weight loss. About 1 in 10 people in clinical trials experienced weight loss when they first started taking this medication. The symptom usually improves after a few weeks. There are other factors that can cause weight loss aside from Truvada. Your healthcare provider will rule out other causes such as parasites, infection, malignancy, anorexia nervosa, depression, and thyroid disorders. Try these steps to manage weight loss:

  • Avoid food and drinks with empty calories; food that fills you up but does not provide; useful calories for energy and body fuel;
  • Eat small meals several times a day;
  • Eat foods that you like even if you are not hungry;
  • Try nutritional supplement shakes like Ensure;
  • Monitor your weight loss. Consult your doctor or nutritionist if your medication is causing you to eat less.

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