Steps to Getting PrEP in BC

Steps to Getting PrEP in BC
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    Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP for short, is a way to prevent HIV! It is a strategy where those of us who are HIV-negative take a pill on a daily basis when we may be coming into contact with HIV through sex or sharing needles. This video is for those of us who want to know what steps happen once we decide to start PrEP! If we'd like to learn more about what PrEP is, or if it may be a right fit for us, check out our other video here. PrEP is free for everyone in BC who has MSP, and for people who are refugees. This includes those of us who are Indigenous whether or not we have status! Here are the steps to get onto PrEP! First, we need to make an appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner who we can talk to about our sex lives and drug use. During this appointment, the doctor or nurse practitioner will ask us questions about our sex life and drug use. Together, we'll come to a decision about if PrEP is a good fit for us. More and more clinics are offering PrEP, but it may not be easy to find someone who is knowledgeable about PrEP. If that's the case, we can call YouthCO at 1-855-968-8426 for a connection! The next step is completing blood tests for HIV, Hep B, and STIs, and to check our kidney function. Our doctor or nurse practitioner will give us a form to take to a lab where they can do the tests. If our kidneys meet the requirements, and we test negative for HIV and Hep B, our healthcare provider will fill out a prescription request form from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. This form includes our test results, and why we want to go onto PrEP. Once the form is received, they will approve our prescription. Medication is usually ready for us within about a week, and our doctor or nurse practitioner will let us know when and where to pick up our prescription. If we live outside the Greater Vancouver Area, the pharmacy at St Pauls Hospital will send our PrEP to a nearby pharmacy or our health care provider's office. In most cases, those of us living within the Greater Vancouver Area will pick up our medication at St. Paul's Hospital in downtown Vancouver. Once we receive our prescription, we can start taking PrEP every day! The first time we get PrEP, we will usually get 4 – 6 weeks of pills. After about three weeks, we will need to do the same blood tests we did before starting PrEP. Our doctor will review these tests with us to be sure PrEP is working as expected in our bodies. If PrEP isn't working as expected, we will have a conversation about other strategies to support our sexual health! If PrEP is working as expected, we will be given the go ahead for a 3 month supply of meds. During this visit, we may also want to ask our health provider for a year-long 'standing order' for the tests we need to get before each refill. After we get the go ahead from our health care provider, we need to call the pharmacy and let them know which day we need our pills to be ready for. It takes about five days for our PrEP to get to us outside the Greater Vancouver Area, and about three days if we are picking it up in downtown Vancouver! We will need to start the process to refill our prescription about 2-3 weeks before our pills run out. This includes booking an appointment with our provider and getting new blood tests about a week before the appointment. These tests confirm we are still eligible for PrEP. At our appointment, our health care provider will review our test results with us, and then submit the refill form to the pharmacy at St. Pauls Hospital. Don't forget to call St. Pauls to confirm we're ready for the new pills! We will need to call 1-800-547-3622 and leave a voicemail where we spell our first and last name, share our birth date or personal health number, a contact phone number, and when we need to pick up our medication. We then repeat the process of getting our tests done at the lab, visiting our health care provider, and getting in touch with the pharmacy every time we need a refill! To learn more about PrEP, or YouthCO's programming, visit us at www.youthco.org or follow us on Instagram @youthco.
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