Here are the basics of PrEP - what it is, info about the meds, safety and how to take it for maximum effectiveness.
What is PrEP?
PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. PrEP prevents you from getting HIV.
When you’re on PrEP, you take one dose of an HIV drug called Truvada or generic Truvada, once a day, every day. Generic Truvada is now available in Canada at a much lower cost than the brand name version.
In February 2016, Health Canada approved Truvada and its generic equivalents for PrEP on the basis of one pill, once a day, every day. Other dosing regimens, for example, on-demand dosing, are not approved by Health Canada, and may not be as effective.
Being on PrEP doesn’t prevent you from contracting other sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, hepatitis. But, PrEP gives you extra protection from those ‘oops’ moments, and peace of mind when it comes to HIV. Here's more information on PrEP & STIs.
Is PrEP Safe?
Truvada & Generic Truvada
Truvada is a drug that is used in both the treatment of HIV and PrEP to prevent HIV infections. Truvada is a combination of two drugs: emtricitabine and tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.
In July 2017, Health Canada approved generic versions of Truvada for PrEP.
Generic Truvada is now available in Canada. The cost of Generic Truvada is about one-quarter the cost of the brand name version.
Generic drug companies test their products rigorously to ensure the drugs they are producing are 'bio-equivalent' to the brand name version. This means, that while the shape or colour of the generic pills may be different, they have the same chemical formulation and the same level of effectiveness as the brand name version.
Using generic medications when they are available is a good thing. They are cheaper and just as effective. Importantly, they help keep insurance premiums lower, and government health care costs in check.
The Village Pharmacy always has all generic versions of Truvada, and brand name Truvada in stock - so you'll always get your meds on time, without delay. The Village Pharmacy also has the lowest price for PrEP in Toronto.
PrEP Side Effects
There are three most common side effects of PrEP: headache, dizziness and nausea.
However, these side effects usually resolve about a week after starting PrEP.
PrEP can be hard on the kidneys and bones. So, it is a good idea to discuss the risks with your doctor and complete your blood work as required.
The vast majority of people on PrEP can tolerate it without any issues. If you think you're experiencing side effects or have questions about drug interactions (prescription or otherwise), get in touch with the pharmacist for a consultation.