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.