Descovy vs Truvada | Which HIV PrEP Option is Better?

Written by Phil Rossi

NowRx Pharmacy

Descovy vs Truvada | Choosing the Right Option to PrEP blog image
Truvada and Descovy Differences Image

Descovy and Truvada are the two most popular options for HIV PrEP. Although both are made from similar combinations of Emtricitabine and Tenofovir, there are several major differences that affect the safety and efficacy of each drug.

This article will explore some of those key differences and explore which is the better option in Descovy vs Truvada.

Descovy and Truvada

Descovy and Truvada are two of the most popular options for HIV prevention. Manufactured by Gilead Sciences, each is highly effective at reducing the risk of contracting HIV. In fact, when taken as prescribed both Descovy and Truvada can lower the risk of HIV by up to 99%.

Truvada and Descovy are both forms of HIV PrEP which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. That means that these medications must be taken proactively before a person comes into contact with HIV to be effective.

Let’s take a deeper look at Descovy and Truvada to see what makes each unique.

Is Descovy the same as Truvada?

No, Descovy is not the same as Truvada. Although each of these drugs is a form of PrEP used to protect against HIV, there are key differences in each drug’s composition that make them unique.

Additionally, Descovy and Truvada are approved by the FDA for slightly different populations. For example, Descovy is not approved for people assigned female at birth.

How is Descovy different than Truvada?

The main way Descovy is different than Truvada is their chemical form of the active ingredient tenofovir. Desocvy contains tenofovir alafenamide while Truvada contains tenofovir disoproxil fumarate. Each drug also contains the active ingredient emtricitabine.

It has been suggested that tenofovir alafenamide is as effective as tenofovir disoproxil fumarate at lower doses. As a result, Descovy may have less serious side effects than Truvada, specifically with respect to bone density and kidney health.

Are Descovy and Truvada interchangeable?

Descovy and Truvada are interchangeable to some extent. For example, both have been shown to be highly effective in preventing HIV. However, Descovy seems to be more appropriate for some individuals that may be at risk for serious side effects, such as those with kidney or bone health issues. In addition, Descovy has not yet been approved in people assigned female at birth. Always talk with your doctor before starting, stopping, or changing any healthcare regimen.

Descovy Vs Truvada

There are a number of considerations to make when deciding between Descovy vs Truvada. Let’s take a look at some of the main differences, specifically with respect to effectiveness and safety.

Is Descovy safer than Truvada?

There is evidence to suggest that Descovy is safer than Truvada. At similar levels needed to prevent HIV infection, Descovy was superior to Truvada on several markers of bone and renal toxicity. In other words, Descovy showed signs of less impact on the kidneys and bones.

However, Descovy has not been approved for people assigned female at birth which means it is not an option for some patients. Your healthcare provider can help you determine whether Descovy could be a safer alternative to Truvada.

Is Descovy as effective as Truvada?

Descovy is as effective as Truvada at preventing HIV in at-risk individuals. In fact, Descovy demonstrated slightly higher effectiveness compared to Truvada (99.7% vs 99.4%) although not statistically significant.

Both drugs are highly effective options for HIV PrEP and are used widely across the globe. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine which HIV PrEP medication will be most effective for your specific circumstance.

How much do Truvada and Descovy cost?

Unfortunately, Truvada and Descovy both come with a high cost, usually around $1,400 per month without insurance. However, Truvada tends to be slightly cheaper and covered by more insurance plans than Desocvy. Furthermore, the FDA recently approved a generic version of Truvada that may help lower costs significantly.

In addition, some companies and pharmacies may be able to provide payment assistance for PrEP, even if you do not have insurance. For example, at NowPrEP, manufacturer’s coupons and other payment assistance are provided to reduce patient costs as low as possible.

Which Is Better Truvada or Descovy

It does appear that Descovy is better than Truvada on a number of characteristics related to safety and efficacy. For example, it showed a slightly higher efficacy rate compared to Truvada (99.7% vs 99.4%). Additionally, Desocvy was superior on several safety measures including markers of bone and renal (kidney) toxicity.

However, deciding which is a better option for PrEP depends on a variety of factors. For example, the sex you were assigned at birth, the cost, and what kind of health insurance coverage you have will all play a role.

How to switch from Truvada to Descovy?

Switching from Truvada to Descovy will require a conversation with your doctor. Talk to them about why you want to switch and they can guide you with advice on the best path forward. Remember, Descovy is not approved for people assigned female at birth and may not be covered by some insurance plans.

If you are considering switching HIV PrEP pills or starting an HIV PrEP regimen, you can reach out to us at NowPrEP and get HIV PrEP medication prescribed online and delivered right to your door. We help patients gain access to affordable PrEP medication through our vertical integration with NowRx Pharmacy and offer free consultations to all our customers. If you have any questions, send us an email at and we will be happy to help.

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