Health Canada Approves Truvada for use as PrEP

Toronto – A milestone in the history of HIV prevention in Canada was reached with Health Canada’s approval of Truvada as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis). PrEP refers to the use of an HIV medication by someone who is HIV-negative to prevent HIV infection.

      What this means in practice for people looking to access PrEP:
          · You will still need a prescription for Truvada as PrEP but hopefully, since it is approved, physicians will be more inclined to prescribe it (i.e. they won’t be prescribing it ‘off-label’ anymore).
          · Coverage remains questionable as we don’t know yet how well it will be covered by the Ontario drug plans (both private and public).

ACT has played a leading role among a group of committed community groups who have been working towards this decision for several years. The formal addition of PrEP to the growing slate of available HIV prevention methods indicates collective progress towards a shared goal of ensuring that people in Toronto have access to the safer sex strategies that best suits their needs.

“What an exciting time to be involved in HIV prevention! Over the past four years we’ve seen more knowledge created about new ways to prevent HIV than any other time I can remember,” says John Maxwell, ACT’s Executive Director. “This announcement has energized us and will definitely lead to improvements in the way people living with and at-risk for HIV are treated in Toronto.”

Since the results of the iPrex study demonstrated that PrEP was highly effective at preventing HIV, ACT has worked to achieve two goals. First, stimulate informed conversations about PrEP among gay, bi and queer men; second, advocate for the approval and coverage of PrEP in Canada and Ontario for all at-risk groups including young people, women and people who use drugs. ACT was among the first community-based HIV groups in Canada to launch a campaign on the exciting new prevention tool with its October 2014 Is PrEP Right for Me? campaign, which built off of a 2012 position statement. PrEP was also integral to the acclaimed HIVnow.ca campaign that was featured prominently during Toronto’s 2015 Pride.

ACT looks forward to learning more about Ontario’s plans for ensuring that those who could benefit from PrEP are able to access it. The full cost of Truvada as PrEP remains prohibitively high when not covered through private insurance. ACT will participate in the Common Drug Review process whereby recommendations are made for which drugs are covered by public drug insurance plans. It will also work collaboratively with its community-based and government partners towards integrating PrEP into routine conversations that take place between people and their healthcare providers.

    · To view the official Health Canada NOC page please visit their website and search under product name Truvada.

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