Daily pill prevents HIV – reaching people who could benefit from PrEP
CDC's latest Vital Signs report finds a continuing need to raise awareness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection – among those who are at substantial risk for HIV infection.
According to the report, an estimated 25 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual adult men, nearly 20 percent of people who inject drugs, and less than 1 percent of heterosexually active adults should be counseled about PrEP.
The Food and Drug Administration approved PrEP for HIV prevention in 2012. When taken daily, it can reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV by more than 90 percent and by more than 70 percent among people who inject drugs. However, according to recent studies, some primary health care providers have never heard of PrEP.
PrEP can fill a critical gap in the nation's HIV-prevention initiatives, but all available prevention strategies must be utilized to achieve the greatest impact on the epidemic. Various high-impact HIV prevention strategies must be used to have the greatest effect on the epidemic. In addition to PrEP, these include:
- Treatment to suppress the virus among people living with HIV;
- Correct and consistent use of condoms;
- Interventions to engage and retain people in care and reduce risk behaviors;
- And access to drug treatment programs and sterile injection equipment from a reliable source for people who inject drugs.
CDC has published resources to educate and advise providers – including 2014 clinical guidelines and step-by-step PrEP checklists and interview guides – and supports a hotline to answer providers' questions about when and how to offer PrEP.
In addition, CDC announced in March that it is awarding $125 million over three years to state and local health departments, in part, to expand use of PrEP among men who have sex with men. And in July, CDC announced it had awarded $216 million over five years to 90 community-based organizations nationwide to increase access to PrEP prevention and support services – as well as other effective HIV prevention strategies – among those at greatest risk, including men who have sex with men and people who inject drugs.