Using PrEP

How do I take PrEP correctly?

When you are on PrEP, you will want to take your pill around the same time every day. To make that easy for you, you can use tools like a daily text message reminder. Some people who use PrEP find it useful to take their pill at the same time as one of their daily routines, like right before bed or with lunch. PrEP can be taken with or without food.

Life is busy and people occasionally forget to take their PrEP pill. That’s understandable. If you realize you forgot to take your pill, you can take it later that same day. If you don’t remember until the next day, don’t double your dose; just take one pill as you normally do. Don’t give up!

If you aren’t able to take PrEP as prescribed, it’s less effective at protecting you. So, if you find that you are missing doses routinely or you miss multiple doses in a row, talk to your provider. Another form of prevention may be better for you.

What if I experience side effects?

PrEP is a safe drug and most patients don’t have side effects. Those who do mainly have mild side effects – such as nausea and headache – that often pass after the first month. If they don’t, talk to your provider.

Other more serious side effects – such as kidney and bone problems – can occur. That is why it’s important to see your provider every three months to be checked for any signs of these problems.

For more info on how to manage side effects associated with PrEP, please read the User’s Guide to PrEP.

Once I start PrEP, do I have to keep taking it forever?

Your risks and your need for PrEP can change over time. You can choose to go on and off PrEP throughout your lifetime depending on your needs. However, if you are thinking about stopping PrEP, it’s a good idea to talk to your health care provider first. If you do decide to stop PrEP, remember to use other forms of prevention, such as condoms.

If you decide you want to start PrEP again later, you will need to see a healthcare provider and complete the same screening you did when you first started PrEP.

What if I become HIV positive while on PrEP?

PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV when taken every day. Typically, people who have been diagnosed with HIV while taking PrEP were exposed to HIV before starting PrEP or were not taking it every day

If you become HIV positive while on PrEP, it’s very important to talk to your provider right away. It’s not good for your health to keep taking PrEP if you have HIV because the virus in your body can become resistant to the drugs used for PrEP.

How much does PrEP cost? Is PrEP covered by drug plans?

Most people in Ontario already have a private or public drug plan that will cover all or most of the cost of PrEP. There are also ways for people who don’t have a drug plan to pay for PrEP. Read more about different ways to pay for PrEP in Ontario.