The evidence is now in. Science has proven that the use of Truvada (a fixed dose combination in one tablet of emtricitabine and tenofovir) as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a highly effective HIV prevention tool.
Yet, almost three years now after the Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada as PrEP in the U.S., its approval in Canada for this purpose is nowhere on the horizon. While some doctors have agreed to prescribe it to their patients (prescribing an approved drug for a non-approved use, known as an “off-label prescription”, is not illegal), access currently remains an unsurpassable barrier for most Canadians who could benefit from it.
Nevertheless, PrEP is creating a lot of buzz in Canada, particularly among gay, bi and queer men, who are 71 times more likely to get HIV than other men. Guys are talking about it among themselves and are increasingly asking questions of HIV prevention workers —What is PrEP? Does it work? Would it be right for me? How do I get it?
To answer these questions the community is asking, and to stimulate further discussions about PrEP in the Canadian context, the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) recently launched an education campaign called Is PrEP Right for Me? I recently sat down with Ryan Lisk and Mason McColl, the two staff members at ACT who are primarily involved in this initiative, to talk about the campaign and how guys are responding to it.