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Frequently Asked Questions About PrEP

For additional questions please reach out to support@gofreddie.com.

Getting Started on PrEP

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%

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.

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.

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.

Can you support me in a language other than English?

English is the predominant language spoken at Freddie. However, several staff understand other languages. Depending on who is working when you call there may be someone available who can talk to you in one of the following languages: French, Italian, Spanish, Hindu, Urdu and Portuguese.

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.

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.

PrEP Cost

What are Freddie's financial assistance programs?

90%+ of Freddie's patients get PrEP for free! 

Most people in Alberta, 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.

Freddie's financial assistance programs make PrEP free or low cost for people in Quebec, Nova Scotia and Ontario aged 25 and above.

Ontario

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!

Quebec

Our co-pay assistance program for patients with private insurance covers the cost of co-pays associated with private lab testing. Financial assistance programs to help with the cost of PrEP itself are not allowed under Quebec law, unfortunately, so Freddie cannot offer them.

Nova Scotia

Our co-pay assistance program for patients with private insurance reduces the cost of the co-pay to $30/month for the vast majority of patients. Financial assistance programs for patients using Nova Scotia's Pharmacare are in the works!

You can read more about Freddie's financial assistance here: https://www.gofreddie.com/about-prep/freddies-new-financial-assistance-programs

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, 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:

Ontario

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!

Quebec

Our co-pay assistance program for patients with private insurance covers the cost of the co-pay associated with private lab testing. Financial assistance programs to help with the cost of PrEP itself are not allowed under Quebec law, unfortunately, so Freddie cannot offer them.

Nova Scotia

Our co-pay assistance program for patients with private insurance reduces the cost of the co-pay to $30/month for the vast majority of patients. Financial assistance programs for patients using Nova Scotia's Pharmacare are in the works!

You can read more about Freddie's financial assistance here: https://www.gofreddie.com/about-prep/freddies-new-financial-assistance-programs

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, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec 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

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 wear a condom when on PrEP?

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

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 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.

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.

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

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".

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 https://app.gofreddie.com/. 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 support@gofreddie.com.

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

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

Mint Health + Drugs (Franklin Station location for our Calgary and surrounding area patients)
2840 2 Ave SE, Calgary, Alberta, T2A 7X9
Alberta College of Pharmacy License Number: 3405
Phone: (403) 520-6450

Capsule Pharmacy (for our Calgary and surrounding area patients)
1011 1 St SW #110, Calgary, AB T2R 1J2
Alberta College of Pharmacy License Number: 3058
Phone: (403) 475-4366

For our Ontario patients
DrugSmart Pharmacy Group (Toronto location)
5 The Market Place, East York, Ontario, M4C 5M2
Ontario College of Pharmacists Certificate of Accreditation No. 1750
Phone: (416) 694-6667

For our Saskatchewan patients

Saskatoon Family Pharmacy
415 Wellman Crescent #120, Saskatoon, SK S7T 0J1
Licensed by the Saskatchewan College of Pharmacy Professionals
Phone: (306) 668-4777

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