HIV prevention isn't reaching enough people to make a difference

HIV-preventing PrEP drugs will be made available for free in the US

The Trump administration unveiled a new program to provide HIV prevention medication to people without prescription drug coverage as a part of the president's ambitious effort to eradicate the virus in America by 2030.

In a call with reporters Tuesday, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar announced the program called Ready, Set, PrEP under which individuals who have tested negative for HIV and have a valid, on-label prescription can access the pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, medication. The pharmacy giants all agreed to donate their drug-dispensing fees for the PrEP medications. "Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities", said Azar in a statement, according to Stat News.

"In my first 11 months I've cosponsored 339 pieces of legislation, authored 15, took on Big Pharma w/ my colleagues in hearings that brought PreP generic a year early & exposed abuse of power", she wrote.

The agreement between Gilead and the federal government was announced by President Trump and Azar in May. The president said that his Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative would "save the lives of individuals living with HIV by focusing on the cities and states most impacted by the disease". A 30-day supply of the drugs can cost as much as $2,000 without insurance.

Overall, almost 86 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV in 2017 had "received a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis", the agency reported.

Mayer said more efforts need to focus on testing and treatment. The city reported a 67 percent decline from the number of cases reported in 2001.

An estimated 154,000 people with HIV in the US were unaware they had the sexually transmitted disease and, therefore, didn't seek treatment to suppress the virus and prevent its spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

But Butler also emphasized the role that clinicians play in testing patients for HIV: "Where people are interacting with their healthcare provider, testing needs to be performed". These figures represent an improvement over CDC figures presented past year, which showed that only 8% of all people eligible for PrEP were using it, falling to just 3% for Latinos and 1% for African Americans.

The report also noted disparities in treatment and diagnosis.

The CDC ranked states based on what percent of people newly diagnosed with HIV had the virus under control within six months. In addition, native Americans, blacks and Hispanics had significantly lower rates of PrEP coverage compared to whites. These groups also had the lowest rates of viral suppression, an estimate for effective treatment. Black and Latino people, young people, transgender individuals, people with substance use issues, and those experiencing homelessness are less likely to know they have HIV and to have their virus under control.

In its final category of data collection, the CDC report shows the percentage of people diagnosed with HIV in all 50 states and D.C. who have successfully achieved "viral suppression" through medical treatment.

The report notes that in order to reach the goal of the Trump administration's plan announced earlier this year to achieve a 90 percent reduction in new HIV infections nationwide by the year 2030, far more people will need to begin taking PrEP than are now doing so.



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