What is PrEP?
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxix (PrEP) is a novel way to reduce the risk of contracting HIV infection. When you are on PrEP you take daily medication which protects against HIV by blocking its ability to infect you.
Does PrEP work to prevent HIV?
Studies show PrEP reduces HIV infection risk by 92% to 99% if taken every day – if a daily dose is missed, the level of HIV protection may decrease. Prep only works if you take it regularly.
Clinical studies have shown that PrEP helps reduce HIV risk in men who have sex with men, transgendered women, heterosexual men and women, and people who inject drugs.
Does taking PrEP mean I’ll never use condoms?
Taking PrEP is just one part of your overall sexual health. Its one of the options to protect yourself from HIV, and those options include using condoms.
Why should I take PrEP – I use condoms most of the time?
Studies show that many people do not use condoms for anal or vaginal sex with a partner even when they aren’t sure of their HIV status. Some find it difficult to use condoms consistently.
Is PrEP the right prevention tool for me?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then PrEP might be for you:
- Do you use condoms only sometimes or never?
- Have you ever had an STI in your butt?
- Have you taken Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) in the past year?
- Is your sexual partner HIV-positive with a detectable viral load and you are HIV-negative?
- Are you in an open relationship or having sex with multiple partners?
- Are you having sex with someone whose HIV status you don’t know?
- You can also use this scorecard to find out if you’re at risk of HIV
Does PrEP work?
When taken daily, it’s 92% to 99% effective at preventing HIV infection.
Can I just share the HIV drugs of my friend?
It’s not a good idea to share prescription drugs and the drugs may not work for PrEP.
What drug is used for PrEP?
In Canada, the only medication currently approved for PrEP is tenofovir disoproxil fumarate/emtricitabine – Health Canada recommends that it be used daily to be effective.
Are there side effects?
Most people don’t experience any side effects with PrEP. Like any medication, there are things to watch out for and your doctor can discuss with you how they will monitor your health while you are taking PrEP. You won’t feel anything to know that it’s working. That’s why it’s important to take it every day.
Does PrEP prevent any other STIs?
No. PrEP is only effective at preventing HIV infection. Condoms are the best option to protect against STIs. While you’re on PrEP you will be tested regularly and treated promptly if you get an STI.
I’ve heard PrEP is expensive – how will I pay for it?
If you’re under the age of 25, or already have coverage through Ontario Disability Benefits or Ontario works, or have already applied for Trillium, you are covered for PrEP. Most private health insurance from employers or schools also cover PrEP. If you don’t have any health insurance for medications, the clinic can discuss with you the options for getting coverage.