While it’s great that more people are finding out about PrEP through word of mouth, much misinformation is also out there. Freddie is Canada’s largest HIV prevention service, with over 15,000 online PrEP appointments completed.
Here are some facts to clear up some of the most common questions around PrEP.
Myth: PrEP is really expensive
The price of PrEP has come down - a lot. The vast majority of Freddie patients get PrEP prescribed online & delivered discreetly for $0.
Historically PrEP was only available as name-brand Truvada, a branded drug that costs $1,000+ per month. Fortunately, Health Canada approved the generic form of PrEP in 2016 and Descovy in 2020.
We built a 1-minute PrEP cost calculator that can give you personalized and instant feedback on your eligibility for free or low-cost PrEP. Check it out here!
Myth: I won’t be able to tolerate PrEP because of side effects
While some mild side effects can occur with PrEP, they are most often temporary. These side effects could include headaches, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and other GI issues. Rarely, the medications in PrEP can cause reversible kidney issues - one of the reasons we check your blood every three months. Fortunately, less than 10% of people experience any side effects, and most patients can continue without any issues or side effects.
The fear of side effects shouldn’t hold you back from trying PrEP. Regular check-ups with your provider will ensure that you are doing well while on PrEP and that any side effects are managed.
Myth: PrEP is only for people who have multiple partners
There are many different reasons to go on PrEP, and all of them are valid!
People from all walks of life take PrEP. Whether you use condoms, have multiple partners, or your loved one has HIV, many people use PrEP. The one thing they share in common is a desire to dramatically reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.
Myth: I can take PrEP just before having sex
There is a good reason this is a common question - it’s a bit complicated! We have a saying around PrEP: “some PrEP is better than no PrEP.”
If we go into more depth, the easiest and safest option is to take PrEP once every day. This ensures that you have up to 99% protection against HIV. But please feel free to ask your provider more about this.
Myth: On PrEP, I don’t need condoms
PrEP provides protection for HIV but not for any other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The choice of whether to wear a condom or not is personal. However, if you want some protection against these other conditions, it is best to use PrEP and condoms. An added benefit of PrEP is regular infection screening during lab testing every three months so that we can reduce infection transmission.
Myth: PrEP can be taken after sex (no, this is what PEP is for)
This one is not true. PrEP is for prevention, and PEP is taken after a potential exposure.
Think of them in the following way:
- PrEP is like birth control and is taken before sex.
- PEP is like Plan B and is taken after sex.
PEP is similar to PrEP, but it is a different medication, is taken for 28 days, and must be started within 72 hours of whatever activity exposed you to HIV. If you think you have been exposed to HIV, please contact your local public health office or urgent care services.
If you know you will be taking part in any activity that puts you at risk for HIV transmission or you have needed PEP before, it is recommended that you regularly take PrEP.
We are so glad you took a minute to become more informed about PrEP. Even this simple act shows you are taking control of your own health.
Are you interested in learning more? We’re here to help! Consider taking our free 1-minute HIV risk assessment. You can also book a free phone visit with our inclusive clinical team to discuss your questions.