FAQs

WHAT IS PrEP?

  • PrEP stands for HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.
  • PrEP involves taking a medication before having sex or sharing drug equipment to lower the chance of HIV infection.
  • PrEP is an effective tool used by HIV negative people to lower the risk of becoming HIV positive.
  • PrEP will not protect you from other sexual infections.

 

WHAT MEDICATION IS USED AND HOW SHOULD I TAKE IT?

  • Tenofovir DF/ Emtricitabine (Truvada) is the combination medication that is approved by Health Canada for HIV PrEP.  
  • Take 1 tablet daily, with or without food.
  • It takes 7 days to reach levels in your body that will protect against HIV for anal sex, and 21 days for vaginal sex.

 

CAN I TAKE PrEP “ON DEMAND”(“DISCO DOSING”, OR “CONDOM HOLIDAYS”)?

  • On-demand PrEP might be considered for gbMSM individuals (gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men).
  • On-demand PrEP has not been studied for people who have vaginal sex, or people who use drugs.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO WHILE TAKING PrEP?

  • Blood tests must be done every 3 months to test for HIV infection and to check your kidneys.
  • You should be tested for other sexually transmitted infections every 3 months.

 

HOW MUCH DOES PrEP COST?

  • Truvada is covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit, and the Trillium Drug Plan.
  • Most private drug plans cover Truvada.

 

WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS OF PrEP?

  • Some people notice nausea, diarrhea, bloating or headaches when they start PrEP. These side effects usually go away on their own.
  • Tenofovir may cause some thinning of the bones. Make sure that you are getting calcium (1000 mg per day) and vitamin D (400 IU – 1000 IU per day) from your diet and supplements.
  • Rarely, people can have an allergic reaction to PrEP. If you have rash, swelling, or difficulty breathing, go to the emergency department for medical care.
  • Tenofovir can rarely lead to kidney problems. Your kidneys will be checked with bloodwork every 3 months while you are on PrEP.
  • If you get HIV while on PrEP, you will need to stop taking PrEP and start new treatments for HIV.
  • If you experience symptoms that could be early HIV, see your doctor right away. Symptoms of early HIV include: fever, headache, joint pain, sore throat.

 

WHAT IF I FORGET TO TAKE A DOSE?

  • Take the medication as soon as you remember, unless your next dose is due within the next 6 hours. In this case, take your next dose at the usual time and do not double your dose.

 

WHAT IF I DECIDE TO STOP PrEP?

  • Continue PrEP for AT LEAST 48 HOURS after your last possible HIV exposure (sex without a condom or shared drug equipment). The Canadian Guidelines recommend continuing PrEP for 28 days after your last possible HIV exposure.
  • Follow up with your doctor for HIV testing 4-6 weeks after your last possible HIV exposure.

 

Sources:

http://www.cfenet.ubc.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/centredocs/prep_patient_info_sheet_25-jan-2018.pdf

https://thesexyouwant.ca/prep/questions-answers/

https://www.catie.ca/en/fact-sheets/prevention/pre-exposure-prophylaxis-prep