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Approximately 1 in 4 gay, bisexual men; 1 in 5 people who inject drugs; and 1 in 200 heterosexuals should be counseled about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)

A new CDC  Vital Signs report published Tuesday estimates that 25 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual adult men, nearly 20 percent of adults who inject drugs, and less than 1 percent of heterosexually active adults are at substantial risk for HIV infection and should be counseled about PrEP, a daily pill for HIV prevention.

Image/NIH

Image/NIH

PrEP for HIV prevention was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. When taken daily, it can reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV by more than 90 percent. Daily PrEP can also reduce the risk of HIV infection among people who inject drugs by more than 70 percent. However, according to recent studies, some primary health care providers have never heard of PrEP. Increasing awareness of PrEP and counseling for those at substantial risk for HIV infection is critical to realizing the full prevention potential of PrEP.

“PrEP isn’t reaching many people who could benefit from it, and many providers remain unaware of its promise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “With about 40,000 HIV infections newly diagnosed each year in the U.S., we need to use all available prevention strategies.”

PrEP is one essential component in the nation’s high-impact prevention strategy

While PrEP can fill a critical gap in America’s prevention efforts, all available HIV prevention strategies must be used to have the greatest impact on the epidemic. These include treatment to suppress the virus among people living with HIV; correct and consistent use of condoms; reducing risk behaviors; and ensuring people who inject drugs have access to sterile injection equipment from a reliable source.

“PrEP has the potential to dramatically reduce new HIV infections in the nation,” says Jonathan Mermin, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “However, PrEP only works if patients know about it, have access to it, and take it as prescribed.”

A separate analysis published today in Vital Signs suggests that focused efforts can significantly expand the reach of PrEP. Researchers from the New York State Department of Health report that PrEP use among New Yorkers covered by Medicaid increased from 303 prescriptions filled from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, to 1,330 prescriptions filled from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015 in the year following the launch of a statewide effort to increase PrEP knowledge among potential prescribers and candidates.

PrEP is one of four focus areas in the July 2015 Update to the National HIV/AIDS Prevention Strategy. Other key elements of the Strategy and CDC’s high-impact prevention approach are:

  • Widespread HIV testing and linkage to care that enables early treatment;
  • Broad support for people living with HIV to remain engaged in comprehensive care, including support for treatment adherence;
  • And universal viral suppression.

“Today’s prevention landscape is complex and with the wide range of strategies now available, no single tool addresses every prevention need. Reducing the toll of HIV in this nation will require matching the right tools to the right people,” said Eugene McCray, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. “Providers must work with patients to assess which tools best meet their needs. PrEP can benefit many who have high risk. Other risk reduction strategies, such as condoms and access to sterile injection equipment, also offer substantial protection when used consistently and correctly.”

6 Comments

  1. Job Smith says:

    You might mention that without insurance the cost of the pill is approximately $13000 a year. Oh wait, that might be why it isn’t being used much as a prevention!

    • Arby says:

      Does it not drive you crazy that every tenth website is a browser script banger? The nature of internet requires people to check what they are putting into a site

      when they put it in.

      I could tell you all about the fiber irregularity I have. Just as soon figure out if have retrovirus or if she’s late.

      But I’m rolling forward optimistic on not being the last to know and taking care of business.

      I don’t have a big pill. I have a big bill.

      The question was “does anybody care how much it costs to have healthcare?”

      I’m not screaming about the insurance premiums outside of the social implications that this might have. It is a big bill to swallow.

      This is a practice inside of the very operation of the system.

      It happens a little on the top but it happens on the bottom too. Instictually.

      Forget the ‘put him on hold for ten minutes, talk for two’. That’s not my complaint.

    • bernardo says:

      Or you could just have sex with only one person like the Good Book says. That method is a whole lot cheaper, too. If you bristle at any mention of religion, just do it in the name of common sense. Either way has the same result.

  2. Knowledge says:

    You might also want to know that there are programs and grants available through the government out there that can assist you with getting medication.

  3. Yuen says:

    All available prevention strategies ? How about asking the FDA to evaluate the pros and cons of making PrEP an over the counter drug and come to its senses.

  4. […] CDPH invests resources in proven HIV and STI prevention interventions like condom distribution, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), testing and treatment. Data from the surveillance report is used each year to identify health […]

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