STD Home > What Is Emtricitabine Used For?

Emtricitabine is used for treating HIV and AIDS in adults and children (including newborns). Although the drug cannot cure HIV or AIDS, it can help prevent the virus from multiplying and infecting uninfected cells. In addition, emtricitabine can be prescribed for "off-label" uses to prevent HIV infection in people who are exposed to the HIV virus (such as someone who comes in contact with a contaminated needle).

What Is Emtricitabine Used For?

Emtricitabine (Emtriva®) is a prescription medication used in the treatment of AIDS and HIV. It is part of a group of medications known as nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (also known as NRTIs).
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (more commonly known as AIDS) was initially reported in the United States in 1981. Since then, it has become a significant, worldwide epidemic. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Initially, the HIV infection does not typically cause any obvious symptoms (see HIV Symptoms). However, by killing or damaging cells of the body's immune system, HIV will eventually begin to progressively destroy the body's ability to fight infections and certain cancers (see AIDS Symptoms).
HIV is commonly spread through sexual contact with an infected partner. HIV transmission also happens through contact with infected blood, which frequently occurs among IV drug users (who share needles or syringes contaminated with blood from someone infected with the virus). Women with HIV can transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding.
Emtricitabine is not a cure for HIV or AIDS (in fact, there is no known cure for HIV or AIDS at this time). Also, emtricitabine is not intended to be used alone. Instead, it is used as part of an HIV "cocktail." These cocktails usually consist of three or four (or sometimes even five) different HIV medications (technically known as Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy, or HAART). Using a combination of medications helps to prevent the virus from becoming resistant to one or more of the drugs.
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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