29 February 2016 

Truvada approved for HIV prevention in Canada

In an exciting development, on February 26th 2016 Health Canada approved the use of Truvada taken every day to reduce the risk of sexual transmission of HIV.

Truvada is a pill containing the following two anti-HIV drugs:

  • tenofovir DF – 300 mg
  • FTC (emtricitabine) – 200 mg

Taking medicines to reduce the risk of infection in HIV-negative people is called pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

Health Canada has approved the daily use of Truvada as part of a suite of prevention measures including the following:

  • testing for HIV prior to initiation of Truvada
  • screening for and, when necessary, treatment of sexually transmitted infections
  • regular and frequent testing for HIV while using Truvada
  • the use of condoms

Health Canada based its approval on data from clinical trials in men who have sex with men as well as in heterosexual couples where one partner was HIV-positive. In these studies, Truvada was taken once daily every day together with the suite of previously mentioned prevention measures. In this context Truvada was highly effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection.

What’s next?

Truvada costs about $1,000 per month. To facilitate access, private insurance companies need to move swiftly to add Truvada (when used as PrEP) to their list of reimbursed medicines.

However, not everyone at high risk for HIV has private insurance. Canada’s provinces and territories now need to consider adding PrEP to their lists of subsidized medicines (these lists are called formularies). Unless they provide subsidies, it is unlikely that Truvada will reach its full potential to significantly stem the spread of HIV.


Truvada – CATIE fact sheet

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – CATIE fact sheet

CATIE statement on the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV

Condoms, PrEP, and the use of antiretroviral treatment to prevent HIV – CATIE webinar

PrEP for the prevention of HIV infection in the United States: A clinical practice guideline – US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Clinical providers’ supplement for providing PrEP – CDC

Interim guidance on providing HIV PrEP – Quebec Ministry of Health (French only)

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) guidelines – B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

—Sean R. Hosein


  1. Gilead Sciences. Health Canada issues notice of compliance for Gilead’s Truvada for reducing the risk of sexually acquired HIV infection. Press Release. 29th February 2016. Available at:
  2. Gilead Sciences. Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate tablets). Product Monograph. 23 February, 2016.