Did you know?
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is a prescription medication typically taken daily to reduce the risk of acquiring HIV.
1 in 7
people living with HIV are unaware of their status.
1 in 15
people who've had rectal chlamydia or gonorrhea acquire HIV within a year.
When taken as prescribed, PrEP can reduce the risk of acquiring HIV by up to
Answers for everything prep.
Health is very personal and we feel it’s important to provide information to help you make a well-informed decision about PrEP. If you will ever have a possible exposure to HIV it is something to consider – especially if not always 100% sure of a sexual partner’s status.
A person can have just one partner and acquire HIV, while someone else can have several partners and never acquire it. HIV impacts people of all ages and backgrounds – there isn’t one “type” of person who can benefit. This includes all gender identities and sexual orientations.
Many patients with our clinic have found peace of mind taking PrEP and that it reduces anxiety around their sexual health.
PrEP is a combination of two drugs that fight against HIV known as “antiretrovirals”. They work by preventing HIV from being able to take hold in the body. The medications in PrEP are actually sometimes used as part of HIV treatment regimens as well (but can’t be used alone in treatment, only for prevention).
PrEP is typically taken as one tablet every day. However, if you are cis man or trans woman it may be prescribed On-Demand and taken just around the time of sexual activity. Learn more about the non-daily option here.
Individuals on daily PrEP will have maximum protection from vaginal or frontal sex at 21 days and anal sex at 7 days. The medication needs to be continued once daily as consistency determines the level of effectiveness.
Take control and consider PrEP if any of the following apply to you:
- You don’t always use condoms (external or internal) when you have anal, frontal, or vaginal sex and aren’t always certain of your partner’s HIV status
- You’ve been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection in the last six months
- You’re in a relationship with a partner living with HIV, but they are not undetectable
- You are a person who injects drugs, or you’re in a sexual relationship with a person who injects drugs
PrEP is generally well tolerated and side effects can include stomach upset, headache, or feeling tired. These symptoms usually improve or go away with use. Over 90% of our patients do not report experiencing any side effects. The medications in PrEP have now been studied and taken for 20 years.
Rare potential side effects include impact on your kidney function but your prescriber will monitor this during regular bloodwork. Any changes are generally reversible upon stopping the medication. The other possible side effect is changes in bone mineral density (bone strength). This is generally minor and reversible upon discontinuation.
It is very uncommon for patients to stop PrEP due to side effects in our experience.
PrEP requires a prescription and our clinic team can prescribe and monitor your care on it. We offer online video/phone appointments across all of Ontario. If near our in-person clinics we also offer full-service care in Toronto, Brampton, and Ottawa.
During your clinic appointment the team will discuss if PrEP is right for you and order lab work. This includes testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. After the results come in you’ll connect with our HIV Pharmacists and be able to start the medication. You will then get lab work again before running out of your medication supply. We offer free shipping across Ontario (to home, work, or a local post office) or in-person pick-up with us.
Lab work can be completed at your preferred lab in your area (eg. LifeLabs, Dynacare). We also offer on-site lab testing at our in-person location.
An individual will need to test HIV-negative to be on PrEP. If a person is living with HIV, PrEP alone is not sufficient to treat HIV and could lead to medication resistance.
Get the facts on some of the most common myths about PrEP.
PrEP encourages everyone to higher risk behavior and increases STIs.
Earlier studies that looked at PrEP use had found that PrEP did not significantly change sexual behavior. People who were already at risk just got protection. They also were tested more frequently due to regular monitoring being on PrEP, which allowed for better STI detection.
PrEP is effective so there is no point to condoms.
Condom use should still be considered as PrEP does not protect against other STIs besides HIV. PrEP plus condom use does further reduce the risk but is something for each person to determine what is right for themselves. We offer free condoms and lube to our clinic patients if interested.
PrEP doesn’t protect against other STIs so it’s useless.
The purpose of PrEP is simply to reduce HIV risk. If there was ever an HIV vaccine everyone would line up for it, even though it would not protect against other STIs either.
Individuals on PrEP are taking initiative and control of their sexual health. There is no shame is accessing essential tools and resources to support HIV prevention. There are many individuals who could benefit from PrEP who are not currently on it.
People on PrEP are more sexually active.
Besides the fact we should not be disparaging people who have more sex, HIV does not discriminate whether someone has sex once or multiple times. Each sexual interaction is its own independent risk. Empowered individuals taking control of their sexual health go on PrEP.
For people who rarely “hook up” or have few partners, the On-Demand may be a potential option.
Only gay men can go on PrEP.
HIV can affect anyone and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities at risk can benefit from prevention tools. 1 in 4 new HIV infections are in women in Canada.
While we specialize in care for the community and are LGBTQ+ owned and operated – our service in inclusive to all. We have patients of all backgrounds accessing PrEP through us and don’t leave anyone behind.
Less active? There’s a non-daily way some people get PrEP prescribed called On-Demand PrEP.
Sexual Health Vaccines
We ensure our patients are offered free sexual health vaccines to help protect against HEP A, B, and HPV.
What is safe to combine with PrEP?
From over the counter products to supplements & recreational drugs, we’ve got the info here!
Incidence of Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Following Human Immunodeficiency Virus Preexposure Prophylaxis Among Men Who Have Sex With Men: A Modeling Study. SM Jenness, et al. Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 65, Issue 5, 1 September 2017, Pages 712–718.
AY Liu, et al. Sexual risk behavior among HIV-uninfected men who have sex with men participating in a tenofovir preexposure prophylaxis randomized trial in the United States. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2013 Sep 1;64(1):87-94.