CDC: Not Enough High-Risk Adults Receiving HIV PrEP

Many adults who could benefit from HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) aren't receiving it and about one-third of primary care providers reported how they never heard of PrEP.

About 25% of sexually active gay and bisexual adult men, nearly 20% of adults who inject drugs, and <1% of heterosexually active adults are at high risk for HIV infection and should be counseled about preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), according to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. 

However, a recent CDC survey revealed that 1 in 3 (34%) of primary care physicians and nurses never even heard of PrEP.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada (emtricitabine, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate; Gilead), as a once daily pill for HIV prevention in 2012. Currently, Truvada is the only therapy approved for PrEP. Daily PrEP can lower the risk of sexually acquired HIV by over 90% and can also lower the risk of HIV infection by >70% among adults who inject drugs. It can be even more effective if combined with other prevention methods such as condom use, drug abuse treatment, and treatment for those with HIV in reducing the chance of transmitting the virus to others. 

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“PrEP isn’t reaching many people who could benefit from it, and many providers remain unaware of its promise,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “With about 40,000 HIV infections newly diagnosed each year in the U.S., we need to use all available prevention strategies.”

The New York State Department of Health reported that PrEP use among New York residents covered by Medicaid rose from 303 prescriptions (from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014) to 1,330 prescriptions (from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015)  following the implementation of a statewide effort to increase PrEP knowledge among prescribers and candidates.