Low awareness of PrEP treatment keeps HIV patients numbers up according to a recently released Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment, a preventive strategy that could significantly curb the annual rates of HIV infections in the U.S. However, few healthcare providers have heard of the pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment. Thus, many U.S. citizens in high risk categories haven’t benefitted from PrEP.
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved pre-exposure prophylaxis. The preventive treatment should be combined with oral antiretroviral medication for the best results to be achieved. In the FDA guidelines based on clinical trial results, it is stated that taken daily, PrEP cuts the risk of HIV infection through sexual contact by 90 percent or more. The risk of HIV infection from injection drug use is also cut by 70 percent provided PrEP is taken daily.
In announcing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC stated that many healthcare providers are unaware of the treatment or its benefits. Thus, a number of people who could greatly benefit from PrEP remain out of the loop. Each year 40,000 new HIV infection cases are registered nationwide. Against this background, the CDC recommends that efforts to increase awareness are ramped up.
Jonathan Mermin also with the CDC and director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, TB Prevention also mentioned the potential of PrEP to curb the number of new HIV infections. For this, awareness and coordination at the federal level need to be strengthened.
The best example of PrEP use and benefits comes from San Francisco. Here, 15 percent of gay men are already treated with PrEP in combination. As a result, new HIV infection rate dropped significantly. Last year, only 302 new cases were registered compared to 2,000 at the peak of the HIV epidemic. If this success story could be replicated at the federal level accounting for other influencing factors, the new HIV infections would drop drastically.
Low awareness of PrEP treatment keeps HIV patients numbers up. A new Vital Signs report identifies the high risk categories for HIV infection. Thus, 24.7 percent of the gay and bisexual adult men in the U.S. are at high risk of HIV infection. In addition, 0.4 percent of heterosexual U.S. adults are prone to the same risk. And 18.5 percent of those who use drugs by injecting them are also at high risk of HIV infection.
For these high risk categories and not only, PrEP treatment should be made widely available. The first step it to educate healthcare providers in this sense.
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