The HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) helps prevent HIV infection in those at high risk of acquiring the virus through lifestyle choices. While some provinces or territories within Canada require individuals to pay for the prescription out of pocket, Alberta made generic versions of PrEP available at no cost to those at high risk of HIV.
Alberta Health Services is currently working with all sexual health and HIV experts to provide ongoing support and training to health professionals who may benefit from prescribing HIV PrEP to their patients. Once designated as a prescriber, Alberta Health Services will identify the practitioner as a valid option for those wanting the medication.
PrEP medications are only available by prescription at this time by a designated health professional. These professionals must demonstrate specific knowledge of HIV prevention. Currently, Alberta provides a comprehensive list of designated PrEP prescribers for individuals needing assistance. For example, someone wanting PrEP might visit STI clinics in Edmonton for HIV testing but may need to visit a different doctor to acquire the script. If a designated prescriber determines a patient is medically eligible, they will write a prescription. Anyone wanting to receive the HIV PrEP must have a valid Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan card to receive the HIV PrEP free of cost.
If you’re looking for a designated HIV PrEP prescriber in Alberta, all health services will have a current list of doctors capable of helping. This list divides into different provincial zones according to the physical location. Not all physicians listed are currently taking new patients, so always contact the clinic before heading over.
While no one wants HIV, only high-risk individuals qualify for no-cost services at this time. People who are currently HIV-negative and have a high, ongoing risk of contracting HIV qualify for PrEP at this time. This might include men who have sex with men, gender diverse people, and transgender women reporting anal sex without a condom within the last six months, with at least one of the following risk factors:
Individuals currently eligible for PrEP include those who engage in injectable drugs and share injection supplies with others. These shared supplies might consist of needles, syringes, or other paraphernalia. Finally, anyone currently engaging in sexual activity with partners from a population known for high rates of HIV may qualify for free medical prescriptions.
Individuals in stable or closed relationships are not eligible for PrEP medications. To qualify for PrEP medication in Alberta under the government program, individuals must show a direct and ongoing risk of HIV through lifestyle choices. This includes any relationship with one partner living with HIV who is getting treatment and has low levels of HIV.
Should exposure to the human immunodeficiency virus occur, PrEP stops the virus from taking residence within the body and limits the potential for spreading. The medicine concentrations within the bloodstream and local tissues help the at-risk individual remain HIV-negative. PrEP combines two different antiretroviral drugs to prevent the virus from entering and replicating within the body. Medications are usually taken daily but take some time to create ideal concentrations.
PrEP medications take between seven to twenty-one days to achieve optimal concentrations for HIV protection. During this time, doctors will strongly advise patients to maintain additional protection methods (like condoms for sexual encounters). It is possible to contract HIV during the first few weeks of PrEP usage. Likewise, failing to take these medications properly can significantly influence the level of protection.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that PrEP reduces transmission rates by approximately 92% overall. This number depends on the type of exposure experienced. These percentages are 74% for injectable exposure and 99% protection for sexual contact. Those engaging in shared injectable drug use will have less protection against HIV than sexual exposure.