25 Oct Is PrEP Free for Everyone in Ontario?
Answer: No, but maybe for you it is.
I’ve been getting asked this question a lot so I decided to put all of the information I know about accessing PrEP in one spot.
So you’re living in Simcoe or Muskoka and you’ve read about Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), the once-a-day pill for HIV-negative people that prevents HIV, and are wondering how to get it. This blog post will answer questions about cost, subsidization, and how to access it without travelling to the GTA.
Before we get started, we need to get some basics out of the way about the two approved medications being used as PrEP:
This is the brand name most people are familiar with. The regular cost in Ontario without any coverage is approximately $1000 per month.
This is the generic medication that is just as effective for usage as PrEP and works the same way. The regular cost in Ontario without any coverage is approximately $460 per month.
These are substantial monthly costs, so once you get your prescription from a doctor, here are some other options you could consider.
4 Ways You Can Access Free PrEP
1. You are Under 25
Starting January 1st if you’re under 25 years old, you can get the generic form of PrEP called TEVA free of charge using your health card.
2. Ontario Drug Benefit (ODB)
The Ontario Drug Benefit covers both Truvada (the brand name form of PrEP) and TEVA (the generic form of PrEP). If you fit any of the following criteria, you can already access PrEP for free if you have a prescription.
- You’re 65 years of age or older
- You’re a client of the Ontario Works (OW) Program
- You’re a client of the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
- You’re a client of the Home Care Program
- You’re living in a long-term care home or a home for special care
3. Non-Insured Health Benefits Program
If you’re a client of the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program for First Nations and Inuit people, you can access Truvada for free.
If you are a First Nations or Inuit person and are not sure if you are eligible for NIHB, you can contact the Ontario office of NIHB at 1-800-640-0642 or NIHB National Headquarters at 1-866-225-0709.
4. Private Health Insurance
If you have private health insurance, sometimes it will cover the full or partial cost of TEVA or Truvada. The best way to figure out if you have coverage is to call your provider and ask whether your specific plan covers either one of those medications. Remember, just because your friend with the same private insurance company has it covered, doesn’t meant that you have the same health insurance plan as they do.
2 More Ways to Get PrEP at a Lower Cost
1. Trillium Drug Program
The Trillium Drug Program is a great way to reduce all your medication costs. Depending on your household income, you could pay a certain deductible 4 times a year. To find out what your Trillium deductible would be, Use this Trillium Deductible Calculator. As a client of the Trillium Program you’ll be eligible for TEVA.
2. Buy PrEP Online (…and crossing the border)
The option of buying PrEP online requires quite a bit of work on your end, but can get the cost of PrEP reduced to $135 for a 90 day supply (about $45 per month). Of course, this is not factoring in the cost of traveling across the border and accommodations. It also requires interacting with border services, which we recognize can be a challenge for many folks.
Once you get your PrEP, you can use this free text-message reminder created by the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance to help remind you to take your pill once a day!