Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Fat redistribution: This medication may change how fat is distributed on your body. With long-term use, fat may accumulate on the stomach, back, and breasts and be reduced on the arm, legs, and face. Notify your doctor if you start developing any changes in your body's appearance.
Hepatitis B: The safe use of this medication for people who are also infected with hepatitis B has not been established. Your doctor may test you for hepatitis B infection before starting you on this medication. If this medication is used to treat HIV for people who also have hepatitis B, worsening of hepatitis B may occur. If you have hepatitis B and stop taking this medication, your hepatitis may return more severely than before. Do not stop taking this medication unless recommended by your doctor. Your doctor will monitor your liver function closely while you are taking emtricitabine.
Immune reconstitution syndrome: This medication may cause immune reconstitution syndrome, where signs and symptoms of inflammation from previous infections appear. These symptoms occur soon after starting anti-HIV medication and can vary. They are thought to occur as a result of the immune system improving and being able to fight infections that have been present without symptoms (such as pneumonia, herpes, hepatitis, or tuberculosis). Report any new symptoms to your doctor immediately.
Lactic acidosis and enlarged liver: This medication can cause a rare but serious condition called lactic acidosis (buildup of lactic acid), together with an enlarged fatty liver. You may be more likely to experience these problems if you are female, obese, or have been taking nucleoside analog medications such as emtricitabine for a long time. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of this condition, such as:
- feeling cold
- irregular heartbeat
- stomach pain
Liver problems: This medication can cause liver problems. Your doctor may monitor your liver function while you are taking this medication, especially if you have risk factors for liver problems. Tell your doctor immediately about any signs of liver problems, such as:
- dark urine
- loss of appetite
- pale stools
- weight loss
- yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
Reduced kidney function: This medication is primarily eliminated from the body by the kidneys. People with reduced kidney function will need longer than 24 hours between doses. Your doctor will recommend how you should take this medication based on your kidney function.
Pregnancy: The medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: Emtricitabine passes into breast milk. Breast-feeding is not recommended for HIV-positive women since the virus can be passed to the baby through breast milk.
The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for adolescents and children less than 18 years of age.