Descovy is similar to generic Truvada. It was created to help patients avoid the adverse effects generic Truvada may have on kidney function and bone health. This was accomplished through the production of a new formulation of tenofovir called TAF (tenofovir alafenamide).
Despite the clear advantage Descovy has in regards to maintaining bone health, it has the same efficacy rate in preventing the transmission of HIV through sex (99%). As a result, besides differences in bone and kidney reaction, the contrast between Descovy and generic Truvada is small.
Accessibility is the largest distinction between Descovy & generic Truvada for PrEP. Your individual insurance plan, health history, and location within Canada can impact your fit for Descovy or generic Truvada.
Due to differences in individual patient needs, it’s important to refer to a healthcare professional to find out which option for PrEP is best suited for you.
The following major insurers cover Descovy in Canada: Manulife, Sun Life, Canada Life, Desjardins, SSQ, IA, Groupsource. Alberta Blue Cross also covers Descovy, but a special authorization is required (which Freddie can help with).
If you have private insurance, it is certainly worth considering. Generic Truvada can cause kidney issues and/or bone density issues in a small percentage of people, especially those who use PrEP for >2 years. Descovy is significantly lower risk for kidney and bone issues. Your Freddie clinician can help you make the right choice.
Descovy has fewer side effects compared to generic Truvada. Potential side effects include:
Only 1% of people on Descovy for PrEP stopped taking it because of side effects, compared to 2% of people taking generic Truvada. The small percentage of people who reported symptoms during this study were either equal to or lower than the amount reported by generic Truvada users for each symptom.
Side effects from Descovy are uncommon. If they do occur, they are usually temporary and subside after the first few days/weeks.
No, Descovy is not meant to be taken on-demand. It can only be taken once daily. If you are considering “PrEP on demand” you should use generic Truvada. It should be noted that PrEP on demand is less effective and thus daily PrEP use is what Freddie recommends.
No, you cannot mix the two concurrently. However you can move from generic Truvada to Descovy and back.
They build up protection equally as quickly. 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 injection drug usage, it is recommended to wait 21 days for maximum protection.
Freddie is currently offering Descovy in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. We have plans to expand to BC, Manitoba and other provinces soon. Please contact us for more information.