NewStarts™ (HIV Program)
Common Questions about HIV
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that can damage your immune system; left untreated, it typically turns into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS occurs when your immune system has been significantly damaged and is much more vulnerable to infections and cancers. The good news is that HIV treatment has advanced significantly in the past decade, to the point where HIV suppressive therapy can manage the virus and keep it from developing into full blown AIDS in the long term.
HIV is treated with medications that target the virus at various stages to prevent it from creating more copies of itself and damaging your immune cells. In order to target the virus at these different stages, more than one drug is commonly used. Sometimes patients develop resistance to one or more medications, and they become less effective; in these cases, multiple drugs are used to manage the virus and maintain suppression. Recent advancements in drug development technology have allowed multiple active drugs to be combined into a single tablet, making treatment much easier for the patient to manage, and leading to fewer missed doses. For instance, treatment that requires three active drugs daily can be combined into a single tablet that needs to be taken only once daily. For the best possible management of HIV, treatment must be tailored to the individual; this means that the choice of treatment and number of tablets will vary from patient to patient. Ultimately, targeted treatment and adherence to the agreed upon treatment plan are needed to suppress the HIV virus with the goal of achieving the “undetectable” status.
“Undetectable” refers to the current “gold standard” of HIV therapy outcomes: to have a patient who is infected with HIV attain viral ‘loads’ (counts of the virus in the blood) to be so low that it is deemed ‘undetectable’.
PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is medication used by someone who does not have HIV (HIV-negative) to reduce their risk of getting HIV, by taking a medication before being potentially exposed to the virus. PrEP does not completely eliminate the risk, but it significantly reduces it. While PrEP has been proven to be successful, it should be used in combination with safer sex practices and harm reduction strategies; prevention of HIV in the first place is equally as important as treatment. At Pharmacy.ca, we are able to connect patients to physicians who are trained in, and knowledgeable about PrEp.Additionally, we have specialists who are able to help patients with navigating their insurance coverage for PrEP. Please contact us to learn more about our PrEP Services. PEP (Post-exposure prophylaxis) is a medication used by a HIV-negative person who has been recently exposed to HIV, to reduce their risk of acquiring HIV. PEP involves a combination of active drugs that are given as soon as possible (and must be started within 72 hours) after the exposure. Anyone who may have been exposed to HIV should visit a hospital emergency room or their doctor immediately to discuss and access PEP.
At Pharmacy.ca, we can answer your questions related to HIV treatment and prevention. Pharmacy.ca understands the importance of providing all possible service and support to ensure that your medication is available, and to enable you to adhere to your individual treatment protocol. Our approach is to provide safe, welcoming clinical care and insurance reimbursement navigation regardless of our patients’ socio-economic, income or housing status – we know that good care can only happen when all factors affecting a patient are considered and managed.
Our services include adherence programs, reimbursement support, and help with navigating compassionate options. We also offer discreet private shipping, Canada-wide.
Our NewStARTs program is for patients who have been newly diagnosed with HIV and require assistance with navigating out-of-pocket costs for their medications and counselling supports. NewStARTs is also for patients who are restarting HIV treatment after a gap in therapy, to help manage their out-of-pocket costs and assist with adherence going forward. This program also contains additional structured counselling and adherence monitoring and is individually tailored for each client, based on their specific needs.
Our BePrEPd service is a Canadian first in privacy and confidentiality in delivery. It allows patients to access PrEP anywhere in Ontario and to enjoy free delivery directly to their home or work. BePrEPd provides patients with a 90-day supply of their PrEP therapy, delivered directly to them in packaging designed to protect privacy. The delivery comes in double-boxed packaging that has been discreetly labelled and sealed with tamper tape to avoid accidental opening.
Contact us if you are interested in enrolling in any of our HIV programs or services, including New StARTs, BePrEPd, or custom adherence programs. We’d also like to hear from you if you would like help with reimbursement navigation, or assistance with exploring your eligibility to access any compassionate supply options. We also encourage you to reach out and talk to our experienced pharmacists if you have any questions about HIV therapy management or your treatment plan. We strive to provide excellent care to meet all your needs!