New federal program increases access to free HIV prevention meds in Hudson

PrEP which has been available since 2012 includes two HIV antiretroviral medications and reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99 percent when taken daily according to studies cited by the CDC

Tuesday, the Trump administration announced that it's launching a new federal program to help thousands of uninsured Americans access prEP, the life-saving HIV prevention drug, at zero cost.

Use of these daily drugs - called PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) - significantly reduces the risk that a person who is HIV-free will contract the AIDS-causing virus through sex or injection drug use, the Associated Press reported.

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The medications, which can reduce the chances of getting HIV through sex by more than 90%, will be donated by Gilead Sciences, which manufactures Truvada and Descovy - the only HIV prevention drugs now approved by the federal government. This donation would extend for the next 11 years.

Gilead representative Douglas Brooks issued remarks on the move in May, insisting that the legal settlement had nothing to do with the government, and insisted that lawmakers - including Ocasio-Cortez - had nothing to do with the agreement.

President Donald Trump also reacted to the news on Twitter, writing at the time that it "Will help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!" That low degree of access is partially a direct result of the $2,000 month to month list cost of Truvada and Descovy, the two Gilead Sciences drugs affirmed for HIV counteractive action, just as the nonattendance of a conventional other option.

While 1.1 million Americans are at risk for HIV, only about 200,000 now receive Truvada, according to Gilead. The initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in the next five years and by 90% by the end of the decade. "This program is a great addition, but it's not the end all, be all".

Between 2013 and 2017, the number of new HIV infections in the US has hovered around 38,000 each year.

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An estimated 154,000 people with HIV in the USA 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.

Mayer said more efforts need to focus on testing and treatment. These figures represent an improvement over CDC figures presented a year ago, 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.

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is an infection that attacks the body's immune system. Viral suppression effectively means no risk of transmission of the virus.

"In 2018, approximately 43 percent of HIV diagnoses were among blacks, and 26 percent were among Hispanics/Latinos", the report says.

He added while rates of infection may be going down in some groups, there are also increasing numbers of infections among young individuals and people from communities of color. But not enough people who have HIV know they have the virus and too many with the virus are not getting treatment.

According to state Office of Health and Human Services, more than 5,000 people in Hudson County are living with HIV or AIDS.

About 86% of all people living with HIV in the US had a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis, with only 55% of young people ages 13-24 with diagnosed HIV infection, the authors noted.

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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