As rates of HIV infection continue to increase in gay and bisexual men, we need to make sure we are using all of the tools available to us to combat that increase. PrEP is a proven and important new tool that should be part of those efforts.
Boston, MA (PRWEB) May 16, 2014
Fenway Health and The Fenway Institute strongly support the May 14 recommendations issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention. PrEP is a proven tool for preventing HIV infection, reducing chances of infection by up to 92% according to several studies, including the iPrex study that Fenway helped spearhead.
Fenway has been involved with PrEP research since the first safety studies were conducted in the US more than 5 years ago, and was 1 of 2 iPrex study sites in the United States. We have also been at the forefront of educating the community about the benefits of PrEP and our National LGBT Health Education Center has been leading education efforts for providers across the country.
“As rates of HIV infection continue to increase in gay and bisexual men, we need to make sure we are using all of the tools available to us to combat that increase. PrEP is a proven and important new tool that should be part of those efforts,” said Stephen L. Boswell, MD, President & CEO of Fenway Health. “The CDC guidelines are helpful, since they clearly suggest that PrEP should be part of a comprehensive national prevention strategy.”
Fenway Health medical providers have been getting increasing requests for PrEP prescription in recent months. The CDC’s guidelines now expand the pool of patients who should be educated about PrEP to include:
- Anyone who is in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV-infected partner.
- A gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or has been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months, and is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.
- A heterosexual man or woman who does not always use condoms when having sex with partners known to be at risk for HIV (for example, injecting drug users or bisexual male partners of unknown HIV status), and is not in a mutually-monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative.
- Anyone who has, within the past six months, injected illicit drugs and shared equipment or been in a treatment program for injection drug use.
“These guidelines should help increase access to PrEP for all at-risk persons and enhance the need for providers to talk with their patients about their sex lives and consider PrEP as one key option in an HIV prevention package,” said Harvey Makadon, MD, Director of the National LGBT Health Education Center at The Fenway Institute. “Educating providers so that they can have those conversations will be an important part of that process.”
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a way for people who don't have HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. The pill contains two medicines that are also used to treat HIV. If you take PrEP and are exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, these medicines can work to keep the virus from taking hold in your body.
The Fenway Institute of Fenway Health continues to conduct research in the best ways to optimize PrEP for individuals at risk for HIV. “Oral PrEP using one pill daily containing 2 antiretroviral medications has been shown to be safe and effective in preventing HIV transmission. In the future, we hope to have other means of prevention, including gels and injectable medication,” said Kenneth Mayer, M.D. Medical Research Director at Fenway Health.
For more than forty years, Fenway Health has been working to make life healthier for the people in our neighborhood, the LGBT community, people living with HIV/AIDS and the broader population. The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health is an interdisciplinary center for research, training, education and policy development focusing on national and international health issues. Fenway’s Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center cares for youth and young adults ages 12 to 29 who may not feel comfortable going anywhere else, including those who are LGBT or just figuring things out; homeless; struggling with substance use; or living with HIV/AIDS. In 2013, AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts joined the Fenway Health family, allowing both organizations to improve delivery of care and services across the state and beyond.