Why Whites are more likely to receive HIV prevention drugs than Blacks

Henrietta Strickland
December 5, 2019

The HIV prevention medication is underused by most who need it. San Francisco's latest HIV epidemiology report shows that new diagnoses dipped below 200 for the first time in 2018, and New York City - with a population approximately 10 times as large - this month announced that new cases fell below 2,000.

Pharmaceutical giant Gilead, which is separately facing a federal patent infringement lawsuit over its strict control of PrEP, previously announced it would "provide up to 2.4 million bottles of Truvada annually" for uninsured Americans at risk for HIV, paving the way for the new scheme.

Of those 38,000 new cases, 38% were transmitted by someone who is unaware of their HIV infection; 43% were contracted from someone who had a positive diagnosis but wasn't receiving care and 20% of new HIV infections were transmitted by someone who was receiving treatment for the virus, but did not have a suppressed viral load.

The Department of Health and Human Services' "Ready, Set, PrEP" initiative will provide free access to PrEP, an HIV prevention drug protocol, in 57 communities for an estimated 200,000 HIV-negative Americans who don't have a health plan with prescription coverage.

"The number of people who acquire HIV each year is unacceptably high", said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, and STD Prevention.

The federal agency launched "Ready, Set, PrEP", a national program that makes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication, taken daily to prevent HIV, available at no cost for those without insurance. However, only a small fraction of those who could benefit from PrEP receive the medication, despite more than 1 million being at risk for HIV. The report shows that 1.2 million Americans lived with HIV infection on 2017, but only a handful of them received PrEP. But the new pill is not yet approved for people who have vaginal or frontal sex because cisgender women and trans men were excluded from clinical trials of Descovy for PrEP.

Azar said there's only three requirements.

President Donald Trump pledged to eliminate HIV transmission within 10 years during his State of the Union address earlier this year, noting that science had "brought a once-distant dream within reach".

In that category, the report shows that 88.6 percent of people believed to have HIV in D.C. have been diagnosed with the virus. The report shows that percentage of those diagnosed versus those who have the virus but are undiagnosed is 86.1 percent in Maryland, 85.5 percent in DE, and 86.9 percent in Virginia. And, while the percentage of those living with HIV who have achieved viral suppression approaches 80 percent in many parts of the country, it's less than 50 percent in places like MS and South Dakota.

Treat infected persons quickly and effectively to suppress viral levels.

"PrEP is highly effective in preventing HIV infection when taken as directed", HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir said in a statement Tuesday.

"We have made incredible strides, incredible", Trump said in January. "That achievement would also be a testament to the decades of HIV advocacy, community involvement and scientific and public health efforts that have driven HIV testing, treatment and prevention in our country". He said anyone interested in finding out more about the Wellness Center should call the Center at 202-741-7692.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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