Descovy for PrEP in Canada - Price, Cost and Side Effects

October 23, 2022
Jordan R.
Julius Care Team 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍⚧️

What is Descovy

Descovy is a combination medication containing two HIV antiretrovirals (ARVs), emtricitabine (Emtriva) and tenofovir AF (Vemlidy). It's a first-choice option for the treatment and prevention of HIV (PrEP) and is a newer version of the combination medication Truvada.

How Descovy works

Descovy contains 2 nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs). They insert themselves into the virus's DNA and stop the DNA-making process. When this happens, the HIV virus can't make copies of itself in your body.

What is Descovy used for?

  • HIV treatment
  • HIV prevention (PrEP)

Typical dosing for Descovy

The typical dose is 1 tablet once a day. Each tablet contains 200 mg of emtricitabine and 25 mg of tenofovir alafenamide (TAF).

How to get Descovy Medication in Canada

To get Descovy for PrEP, you need to consult with a doctor or nurse practitioner, preferebly one with experience in sexual health and LGBTQ2S+ health. If appropriate for you, a doctor will be able to prescribe you Descovy.

Julius MD is a leading Canadian Online PrEP Clinic. Take our Free HIV PrEP online assessment to figure out if you're a good candidate for Descovy or Truvada.

How much does Descovy Cost in Canada

The cost of Descovy varies widely in Canada based on your insurance profile and your province of residence.

Cost by insurance profile:

  • Without insurane, Descovy costs about $1,000 per month, or about $12,000 per year in Canada.
  • With private insurance, Descovy costs about $200 per month.
  • With public insurance, Descovy costs vary widely by province.

What are the side effects of Descovy

With any medication, there are risks and benefits. Even if the medication is working, you may experience some unwanted side effects.

The following side effects may get better over time as your body gets used to the medication. Let your doctor know immediately if you continue to experience these symptoms or if they worsen over time.

Common side effects:

  • Diarrhea (5%)
  • Nausea (4%)

Other side effects:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Stomach pain

Other Frequently asked questions about Descovy

What is the difference between Truvada and Descovy?

Descovy and Truvada are both good medication options for the treatment and prevention of HIV. A change in the tenofovir chemical structure makes Descovy safer for the kidneys and bones. However, it is a newer medication and is only available as a brand product.

Can Descovy be used for PrEP on-demand?

Descovy has not been studied for use as PrEP on-demand. Please visit the Truvada section for more information about PrEP on-demand.

When should I take Descovy?

Descovy can be taken anytime during the day, with or without food. Try to pick a time where you can always remember to take your medication.

Who should not take Descovy?

People with severe kidney problems should not take Descovy.

Is Descovy safer than condoms?

Descovy for HIV prevention is best when used in addition to condoms and other safer sex practices. Descovy works well to prevent HIV, but doesn't prevent other STDs.

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