PrEP - What is it?

What is PrEP and is it right for me?

PrEP is the use of an HIV medication by someone who is HIV-negative to prevent HIV infection. PrEP stands for “Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis”, meaning it is a tool to stop infection (“prophylaxis”) and is taken before you are exposed HIV. Currently, clinical guidelines for PrEP recommend daily use of the medication Truvada for maximum HIV prevention benefit.1

If you think you have been recently exposed to HIV, you might be looking for information about PEP, or Post-exposure Prophylaxis, which is taken as soon as possible (up to 72 hours) after an exposure to HIV to prevent infection. For more info about PEP, check out www.actoronto.org/PEP

What PrEP IS:What PrEP Is NOT
  • It's taking Truvada (a medication that is already used as a treatment for people who are HIV-positive), getting regular check-ups, blood tests and HIV/STI tests.
  • It's part of a growing collection of HIV prevention strategies, including condom use, regular HIV testing, and having honest conversations with sexual partners.
  • It's endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) for use among men who have sex with men that may be at higher risk for HIV infection.2
  • It's highly effective at preventing HIV if taken as directed.3 New studies are showing very high rates of both efficacy and effectiveness.
  • It's changing the landscape of HIV prevention.
  • It's approved by Health Canada but still lacks clarification as to what extent public and private insurance plans with cover it
  • It isn't a new concept. Many other drugs are also taken prior to infection to prevent illness (e.g. Malaria medications before going travelling).
  • It isn't covered by OHIP. Some insurance benefits may cover some or all of the costs of PrEP.
  • It is not a form of prevention for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, herpes, and HPV.

As of February 2016, Gilead Sciences Canada has received approval for the use of Truvada as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis from Health Canada. However, we do not yet know to what extent Truvada as PrEP will be covered in Ontario. The onus now sits with Health Canada and policy makers to ensure universal access and coverage of PrEP. We at ACT applaud the decision to approve PrEP and look forward to working with all levels government to ensure that PrEP is quickly made available to those that seek it and those who would benefit from its use. Click here for more information.

Partial funding for this initiative provided by the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund.