HIV Medications in British Columbia
In the province of British Columbia (BC), HIV medications are free for residents of BC living with HIV, available through the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS drug program. Your doctor will enroll you in the program and prescribe the HIV medications. All the medications come from the Outpatient Pharmacy at St. Paul’s Hospital.
How to Get HIV Medications
- Book an appointment with the pharmacist by calling 604-806-8060 as you would for other appointments at the IDC.
- Try to book 1-2 weeks before your medications run out.
- You will need a prescription for each refill. Arrange with your doctor to pick up your prescription or have it sent to the pharmacy before your appointment.
7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday, Thursday, Friday
7 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday
The Outpatient Pharmacy is located in room 163, on the Main Floor of the Burrard Building in St. Paul’s Hospital.
Appointments before 8am and after 4:40 pm take place in the Outpatient Pharmacy. For all other appointments you will check in with the IDC reception and wait for the pharmacist to see you in IDC.
If you have questions or problems with your medicine, call the St. Paul’s Hospital Outpatient Pharmacy: 1-888-511-6222
To book an appointment to see a St. Paul’s Hospital pharmacist, please call:
Frequently Asked Questions
What do I do if I miss a dose?
It is very important to take your medication every day to make sure that it keeps working. If you miss a dose, there is a higher chance that the virus will change to a form that is harder to treat. This is called “resistance”.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, do not take two (2) doses at the same time. If you are not sure if you should take your dose, call the pharmacist.
What if I run out of medications before I see a pharmacist?
If you run out of medications before your scheduled appointment, you can come to the pharmacy for an emergency supply.
If you are unable to come to the pharmacy during office hours, call the pharmacist on-call at 1-888-511-6222.
What happens at a pharmacy appointment?
The pharmacist will sit down with you to make sure you are feeling well on your medications and will help you with any side-effects you might have. The pharmacist will review your blood work, take a medication history (including prescription, non-prescription and herbal medications) and check for drug interactions. If there are any problems, the pharmacist will work with you and your doctor to find a solution.
The pharmacist will fill your medications for you at the appointment, and the medications will be available afterwards in the pharmacy. Having pharmacy appointments helps maintain your privacy and makes the flow to the pharmacy quicker for you. If it is hard for you to keep appointments, talk to the IDC pharmacist about dropping in.
How much medication can I pick up at a time?
Usually, HIV medications are first filled for one (1) month. After that, they are filled for two (2) months at a time until your viral load is consistently undetectable and your health is doing well. Then, HIV medications can be filled for three (3) months at a time. Most pharmaceutical medications are filled for no more than three (3) months at a time.
What do I do if I have a side effect?
Some side effects are mild but others can be very serious. Contact your doctor IMMEDIATELY if you have any serious side effect. Always tell your doctor or pharmacist if side effects are bothering you. If you aren’t sure if it is a side effect or if it is serious, call the pharmacist: 1-888-511-6222.
It is important to have regular blood tests to watch for some of these side effects.
How do I know if I can start a new medication?
HIV medications may interact with other medicines. Drug interactions can stop your treatment from working or may cause unwanted side effects. Always tell your pharmacist and doctor if you are using:
- Prescription medications
- Over-the-counter medicines (such as Tylenol®, Advil®, vitamins)
- Herbal, natural or traditional medicines
- Recreational drugs
Always check with your pharmacist before starting any new medicines to make sure they are safe for you. You can ask the pharmacist in your appointment or by calling the pharmacist: 1-888-511-6222.
Do my HIV medications go on PharmaNet?
PharmaNet is the province-wide network that links all BC pharmacies data. Every prescription dispensed in a BC pharmacy is entered on PharmaNet. However, for confidentiality HIV medications are NOT put on PharmaNet. Be sure to always check with the HIV pharmacist before starting any new medicines to make sure they are safe for you.