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Getting Started on PrEP

How quickly does PrEP start working?

Your protection begins for receptive anal sex seven days after starting daily PrEP. Before seven days have passed, it is recommended that you take additional HIV protection (such as wearing a condom). For vaginal sex or drug usage, it is recommended to wait 21 days for maximum protection.

What is PrEP?

PrEP is short for Pre-exposure Prophylaxis. It is a once-per-day pill that reduces the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99%

Can you support me in a language other than English?

Freddie is only able to guarantee language support in English. (Note that Freddie does not operate in Quebec.)

If you believe you require additional support, you are welcome to bring your own translator to the consult.

What age do I need to be to start taking PrEP?

Age is not a limitation in Canada for PrEP. As long as you meet the health criteria for PrEP, you are good to go.

How long do I need to take PrEP for?

The short answer is it’s up to you! Getting into more detail - if you take PrEP every day, you will get up to 99% protection from HIV. If you stop taking PrEP though, you lose your protection. You should take PrEP for as long as you think you may be exposed to HIV.

Is PrEP right for me?

PrEP is recommended for those at a higher risk for HIV, including (but not limited to):

  1. Men who have sex with men / Transgender women and gender diverse people.
  2. Heterosexual men and women who have high-risk exposure (such as having a partner with known HIV infection, sex workers, or having sex with a person at high risk for HIV)
  3. People who inject drugs

If you’re interested in finding more about if PrEP is right for you, check out our article on who PrEP is for.

How does PrEP work?

If you take PrEP daily, the presence of the medicine in your bloodstream helps stop HIV from taking hold and spreading in your body. PrEP stops HIV in your bloodstream from replicating, eliminating the virus from your body when the original exposure amount dies.

Freddie offers PrEP in two options: Generic Truvada, & Descovy. Both of which offer equal amounts of protection against HIV when taken daily.

How effective is PrEP?

Daily PrEP use reduces the risk of getting HIV by 99%. Daily use is the most studied regimen, and this is what we recommend as well.

There are additional methods of preventing HIV that are accessible and can be combined with PrEP. HIV prevention doesn't have to be daunting. To learn more, check out our resource on the effectiveness of PrEP.

PrEP Cost

What are Freddie's financial assistance programs?

The following groups typically need to pay for PrEP:

  • Canadian residents without any insurance
  • Ontario residents over the age of 24 without private insurance

Freddie's financial assistance programs can benefit all of the categories listed above except Quebec. This is due to Quebec's provincial regulations that don't allow for financial assistance towards prescriptions. Where Freddie's financial assistance is allowed, 90% of our patients get PrEP for $0.

Most people in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and those in Ontario who are 24 years old and younger, or get insurance through Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program qualify for free PrEP through provincial coverage! However, those who live in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and in Ontario and are 25 years old and above generally need to pay for PrEP.


There are two programs for patients who are aged 25+ and need to pay for PrEP:

  1. Those with insurance: Our co-pay assistance program reduces the cost of the co-pay to $0 for the vast majority of patients.
  2. Those without insurance: We provide support to help reduce the cost of the Trillium Drug Program so that PrEP will either be free or low cost for you depending on your income.

Freddie also provides three months of free PrEP while you wait for your coverage kick in. We're here to support you!

You can read more about Freddie's financial assistance here:

How much does PrEP cost?

90%+ of Freddie's patients get PrEP for free! Here is how coverage breaks down by province and with Freddie's financial assistance programs:

Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and those in Ontario who are 24 years old or are covered by the Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP): you get free PrEP through provincial coverage with your health card!

Here are the costs for other provinces that Freddie serves:


There are two programs for patients who are aged 25+ and need to pay for PrEP:

  1. Those with insurance: Our co-pay assistance program reduces the cost of the co-pay to $0 for the vast majority of patients.
  2. Those without insurance: We provide support to help reduce the cost of the Trillium Drug Program so that PrEP will either be free or low cost for you depending on your income.

Freddie also provides three months of free PrEP while you wait for your coverage kick in. We're here to support you!

You can read more about Freddie's financial assistance here:

For people in other provinces, all except Manitoba have released criteria that, if met, enable you to be fully covered for PrEP. Freddie does not serve provinces outside of Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Saskatchewan quite yet but we have plans to launch in the coming months!

PrEP Side Effects

What are the side effects of PrEP?

Less than 10% of people experience side effects on PrEP. While some people do experience side effects, the vast majority of people don’t experience any at all. Those that do usually only have them for a short amount of time as they get used to the drug.

The fear of side effects shouldn’t hold you back from trying PrEP. Regular check-ups with your clinician will ensure that you are doing well while on PrEP, and that any side effects are managed. 

PrEP Lab Tests

What lab work do I need to do?

Before starting PrEP, you will have to do some lab work. After 30 days of being on PrEP, you will have to do some additional lab work to ensure your body is tolerating PrEP. For most patients, this is just a precaution to be fully sure everything is working well. After that initial checkup, you’ll need to get lab work done every three months. Your Freddie provider will walk you through the process.

Is it safe to visit a lab during COVID?

The vast majority of labs in Alberta, Ontario and Saskatchewan are not conducting COVID swab testing. COVID testing generally takes place at specific COVID testing centres. Therefore if you visit lab, you will not be around patients with COVID symptoms! In addition, most labs have safety precautions in place to protect their staff as well as patients.

PrEP Uses and Best Practices

Can I use PrEP with alcohol?

Alcohol and other recreational drugs are not known to interact with PrEP. It is safe to take PrEP while on these other substances.

How long does it take until PrEP is effective?

You should use additional HIV prevention measures for at least 7 days after starting PrEP. While PrEP provides high levels of protection in people who take PrEP regularly, time is needed to build up protective levels of the drug in the blood and other tissues (7 days for anal tissue, 20 days for vaginal tissue). A few ways to lower risk during this period include using condoms for all anal and vaginal intercourse or abstaining from intercourse all together.

How do I receive my PrEP?

You have a choice. You can either have it discreetly shipped to you with 1-2 day free shipping or you can pick it up from the pharmacy of your choice.

What if I miss a dose of PrEP?

If you forget to take a tablet, make sure to take it as soon as you remember! If it’s less than 12 hours before the next dose, wait until the next dose. 

If you’ve forgotten a dose, don’t take a double dose of PrEP, as it will increase the likelihood of a side effect without giving you any additional benefit.

Missing one won’t significantly decrease your protection, however, if you find yourself missing multiple doses, here are some useful tips from our users on how they remember:

“I take mine every day when I brush my teeth”

“I take it with dinner every day”

“I have a daily alarm that let's me know to take it”

How do I stop taking PrEP?

Current studies state that you can stop PrEP 2 to 28 days after your last possible HIV exposure. However at this time, we don’t know yet if 2 days post-exposure is really enough, so most experts recommend a full 28 days. People can consider stopping PrEP if they are no longer at a substantial risk of acquiring HIV.

Do I need to use a condom when on PrEP?

PrEP provides protection for HIV, but not for any other STIs. The choice of whether to use a condom or not is personal. However, if you are looking for protection against other STIs, it is best to use PrEP and condoms.

How will my PrEP be packaged when shipped to me?

Your PrEP will be packaged in a non-identifiable envelope without any branding or mention of its contents. It will be sent with free 1-2 day shipping.

Can I take ED medications while on PrEP?

Yes! ED medications such as Cialis, Viagra, their generic versions etc. are all fine to take while on PrEP.

Can I be on PrEP and get the COVID vaccine?

There is NO evidence of interaction between PrEP and any COVID vaccines approved in Canada. In other words, there is no reason that being on PrEP should stop you from getting vaccinated. In fact we encourage you to get the vaccine to protect yourself and everyone around you.

Existing Freddie Patients

Where do I see new messages or access my lab requisition?

All messages from the Freddie care team and your lab requisition will be sent through our secure patient portal to protect your privacy. You will receive an email notifying you of a new message, then click the link to view your message in the patient portal. On the right side bar, click messages to view new notes from the Freddie care team. Lab requisitions will be sent as an attachment within the patient portal secure messaging system. 

You can also access your patient portal by going to Just enter your email, then click on the link that was emailed to you to access the portal.

What should I do if I am expecting a message but not seeing any emails?

If you are expecting a message but not seeing any emails from Freddie in your inbox please be sure to check your spam and junk folders. 

If you still do not see any emails and are unsure about your next steps please contact

I just completed the questionnaire, what are my next steps?

Please ensure that you have also booked your free virtual appointment. To book your appointment please click here

How will my appointment work?

Please have your phone on and be expecting a call as your clinician will call you at your scheduled appointment time. Please note that it will come up with a caller ID of "Freddie".

Which pharmacies does Freddie work with?

Freddie works with trusted pharmacy partners who undergo training on PrEP and the LGBTQ2S+ community. They also waive all dispensing fees and shipping costs where possible for Freddie's patients.

For our Alberta patients

Affirming Care Pharmacy (Alberta)

230-510 5th Street SW, Calgary, AB, T2P 3S2, Canada

Alberta College of Pharmacy License Number: 4180

Phone: 403-226-4411

Mint Health + Drugs (Church Street location for our Edmonton and surrounding area patients)
10631 96 Street, Edmonton, Alberta, T5H 2J1
Alberta College of Pharmacy License Number: 3405
Phone: (780) 426-7701

For our Manitoba patients

SRx Winnipeg Pharmacy

228F Waterfront Drive Winnipeg, MB R3B 0C5
Phone: (204) 944-1208

For our Ontario patients
Affirming Care Pharmacy (Ontario)

2624 Dunwin Dr, Unit #2, Mississauga, Ontario, L5L 3T5

Ontario College of Pharmacists Certificate of Accreditation Number: 309132

Phone: (905) 607-6789

For our Saskatchewan patients

SRx Saskatoon Pharmacy

110-119 4th Ave S. Saskatoon, SK S7K 5X2
Phone: (306) 477-7111

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