Ontario to Offer PrEP Drug Under Its Public Health Plan

Ontario, in a bid to fight soaring cases of HIV infections especially among men having sex with men (MSM) has started covering PrEP (a combination HIV prevention drug), now available in generic form.

The pill that is taken once a day has been hailed all over the world for its efficient ability to prevent HIV transmission in HIV negative people by 99%.

The drug though effective, it is quite inaccessible to people who need it most because it is very expensive. Currently the original price of PrEP selling under the brand name Truvada in Ontario is about $1,000 a month.

Generics Offering More Access to PrEP

Truvada was approved in 2016 by Health Canada and was added to Ontario’s Health Ministry list of publicly covered drugs on Sept. 28 2017.

PrEP is recommended to be used in combination with other safer sex practices such as proper use of condoms in order to reduce the risk of HIV among high risk adults populations.

Generic PrEP brands have seen been introduced in the market and are costing about a quarter less compared to the original Truvada brand.

Generic PrEP is currently retailing at $450 per month making access to the drug easier as they are affordable to more people. The public health plan includes PrEP for both HIV treatment and prevention.

How HIV PrEP Works

PrEP has been recommended by doctors as an excellent tool to prevent HIV infection and access to affordable drugs means that more people will have access to this preventive measure and consequently help to reduce HIV rates in Ontario.

HIV PrEP is an oral drug that containes two combined HIV medicines, tenofovir and emtricitabine. The drug should be taken daily by people who are at high risk for HIV daily to reduce their chances of getting infected.

The drug takes about 7 to 20 days for it to become effective. It is recommended that individuals don’t skip any day to improve the efficiency of the drug. Those at risl of getting infected with HIV sould continue taking the PrEP as long as they at risk of infection.

PrEP has a 99% chance of stopping HIV from spreading throughout your body. It’s efficiency increases tremendously if used daily as prescribed. The risk of getting HIV is reduced even further if PrEP is used together with condoms.

The CDC has approved PrEP for use by people who do not have the HIV virus but engage in high risk sex behavior. Other people recommended to take PrEP include:

  • People with multiple sex partners
  • Gay or men who have sex with other men (MSM)
  • Gay or bisexual men found to have an STD within the last 6 months
  • Heterosexual men or women who don’t engage in safe sex such as by using condoms
  • People who use drugs through injection and share needles
  • Serodiscordant couples considering getting pregnant

Seek Medical Advice Before Buying PrEP

Taking PrEP is not easy as it requires daily medication as well as regular visits to a healthcare provider. Not everyone is a good candidate for PrEP and therefore, it’s important to see a doctor or any healthcare provider before you start taking PrEP to ensure it’s the right method for you.

PrEP also causes side effects like nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting in some people. These side effects are not life threatening and will generally subside over time but, it’s important to learn how to handle them.

It’s also important to note that PrEP will only protect you from HIV and not any other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis, chlamydia etc. so remember to stay protected by using condoms.

But What Happens After Exposure Without PrEP?

After you stop taking PrEP you may still find yourself exposed to HIV. You probably forgot to wear a condom or it broke. In other cases it could be sexual violence or rape by a HIV positive person.

No matter the circumstances, should you find yourself exposed to the HIV virus, seek medical attention immediately to get access to HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

PEP is a HIV drug that should be taken within 72 hours of exposure to the HIV virus. The drug is taken daily for 28 days and if taken correctly it has over 80% chance of preventing infection from occuring.  The sooner you start on PEP the more effective it will be.