New CDC estimates underscore the need to increase awareness of a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection
November 24, 2015 - 11:30 PM
WASHINGTON - A new Vital Signs
report published today 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.
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.
“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.”
CDC has also published resources to educate and advise providers –
including 2014 clinical guidelines, step-by-step PrEP checklists and
interview guides – and supports a hotline to answer providers’ questions
about when and how to offer PrEP.
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