PrEP is an HIV prevention strategy whereby individuals at risk for HIV take antiretroviral medication to reduce their risk of acquiring it. A number of studies including PROUD and IPERGAY have found oral PrEP to be highly effective, especially for gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM).
In Ontario, HIV is concentrated in priority populations for whom PrEP could be very beneficial and impactful as part of a combination approach to HIV prevention and sexual health care. Despite Truvada® being approved by Health Canada in February 2016 for PrEP it remains prohibitively expensive and out of reach to most people. In particular, individuals who lack the financial means to pay out of pocket and who don't have health insurance.
In an effort to provide affordable solutions to accessing PrEP, the GMSH has created The PrEP You Want: How to Order PrEP Online as part of The Sex You Want. Canadian permanent residents are not permitted to receive medication by mail or courier from outside the country. However, a Canadian resident can enter the US, pick up, and return with up to 90 days of medication for personal use. With this guide, individuals interested in ordering generic PrEP can legally purchase, ship, and pick up their generic PrEP at their closest US border city. It does require a prescription from a licensed medical provider in Canada and costs range between $40 & $100 CDN a month. Ordering generic prep online is not new – individuals in the UK and Australia are already doing it. Which is widely accredited with playing a role in significantly reducing HIV infections in cities like London (UK) , Brisbane (AUS) and San Francisco (US).
The Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance of Ontario (GMSH) remains committed to ensuring that gay and bisexual men in Ontario have access to accurate information and resources to make informed choices about their sexual health. PrEP presents an enormous opportunity to reduce new HIV infection rates in our communities and expand our package of tailored services and information. We hope this resource is useful to gay men but also providers in assisting with access. While the cost of PrEP is prohibitively expensive now, we remain hopeful for the future and are encouraged by the efforts of many stakeholders on this issue. This document is being translated and added to http://sexequitallume.ca – it’s important that you let French speaking service users know that the websites they will need to navigate to order generic PrEP are only available in English, therefore they may require additional support.
For more information on this resource and the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance of Ontario please email [email protected].