Approximately 1 in 4 gay, bisexual men; 1 in 5 people who inject drugs; and 1 in 200 heterosexuals should be counseled about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
Not enough health care providers know about PrEP.
A new 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.”