Announcing OHIP-covered HIV risk and prevention visits on Maple
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Frequently Asked Questions
What causes HIV?
HIV is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. An individual contracts HIV when they come into contact with infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids. Most people get HIV by having unprotected sex with someone who already has it, or sharing a needle with someone who has HIV.
There is currently no cure but with proper medical care, HIV can be managed and individuals with the virus can live long, healthy lives as well as protect their partners.
What is PrEP and how does it prevent HIV?
PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an HIV prevention strategy that works by interfering with the pathways that HIV uses to cause permanent infection. PrEP is taken daily by higher-risk individuals to prevent HIV. For HIV to cause infection, the virus must gain entry to the body, infect certain immune cells, replicate within those immune cells, and spread throughout the body. PrEP works by helping to prevent HIV from replicating within the body’s immune cells.
It’s important to note that PrEP must be taken consistently as prescribed, otherwise there may not be enough medication in the body to reduce the risk of HIV infection. When taken consistently, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by 99% as well as the risk of infection from injection drug use by at least 74%.
Is PrEP safe?
Yes, PrEP is safe and has been part of effective HIV treatments since 2004. Some people experience side effects like diarrhea, nausea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain, which usually go away over time. In rare cases, PrEP can cause kidney or bone problems. That’s why anyone taking PrEP should see their healthcare provider every three months to be monitored for any signs of these problems as well as discuss any side effects that are severe or won't go away.
Lab work is required before starting PrEP. After 30 days of being on it, additional lab work is required to ensure the body is tolerating PrEP.
Is PrEP covered by drug plans in Ontario?
For many, yes. Most private insurance plans now cover PrEP, along with the Ontario Drug Benefit program, workplace plans, and university and college plans.
Do I have to pay for my consultation on Maple?
Your consultation with our infectious disease specialist and follow-up appointments are covered by OHIP if you have a valid Ontario health card.
Is my information private?
Yes, your personal and health information is completely private. We take confidentiality very seriously. When you use our services, your session is protected by a comprehensive security infrastructure and stringent data policies. You also retain complete control of your personal health information at all times.