Published: Thu, December 05, 2019
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

DC second highest in nation for PrEP use: CDC

DC second highest in nation for PrEP use: CDC

Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that it's launching a new federal program to help thousands of uninsured Americans access prEP, the life-saving HIV prevention drug, at zero cost.

Use of these daily drugs - called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) - significantly reduces the risk that a person who is HIV-free will contract the AIDS-causing virus through sex or injection drug use, the Associated Press reported.

But only about 18% of the 1.2 million Americans who might benefit got a prescription a year ago, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said.

According to the Beacon's report, Gilead - which is the pharmaceutical company behind PrEP, an HIV-prevention drug - agreed to allow a generic version of the drug to be released to the market in 2014.

HHS also noted that the pharmacy chains Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS Health had pledged to donate dispensing services to HHS.

Around 154,000 of the estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in 2017, or 14%, have not been tested and do not know their status, according to the report. However, only a small fraction of those who could benefit from PrEP receive the medication, despite more than 1 million being at risk for HIV.

Specifically, the administration plans to achieve that by providing free doses for qualified individuals, who must provide a valid prescription, a negative HIV test, and no insurance coverage. In those regions, the pace of new HIV contaminations has declined since the presentation of PrEP and is now arriving at a level where there are scarcely any HIV-constructive individuals who are in danger of transmitting the infection and hardly any HIV-pessimistic individuals who are in danger of contracting it.

The HIV prevention medication is underused by most who need it. If accepted into the program, these individuals will be provided with a card that will allow the PrEP prescription to be filled at no cost.

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The Vital Signs report notes that, overall, more than 38,000 new HIV infections occur in the USA annually, and that this number has remained "stable" since 2013, when an estimated 37,500 new cases developed.

New HIV infections remained relatively stable, at about 38,000 per year, from 2013 to 2017, the findings showed. "So, it's very important that women who may be at risk for HIV become aware of HIV prevention services, which can include treatment as prevention, to protect their sexual health", Hill said.

Of about 854,000 people with diagnosed HIV infection in 42 jurisdictions, about 63% had viral suppression.

Advocates in Arizona welcomed the announcement and the larger goal of ending HIV in America by 2030.

"The Trump administration recognises the vital role of prevention in ending the HIV epidemic in America, and connecting members of vulnerable communities to prevention services and medication is an important part of the president's initiative". Another 37% of people with HIV know they have the virus but need treatment.

In order to meet the President's goal of reducing the number of HIV infections by 90% within the next decade, the CDC said in its report that "accelerated efforts to diagnose, treat and provide PrEP while addressing disparities are urgently needed".

President Donald Trump pledged to eliminate HIV transmission within 10 years during his State of the Union address earlier this year, noting that science had "brought a once-distant dream within reach".

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