Yesterday, in yet another milestone for HIV prevention, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced new guidelines regarding the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP is a HIV prevention strategy in which those uninfected with HIV take a daily pill to reduce their risk of testing positive. This is a bold move by the CDC, and if put into practice by health care providers, has the potential to dramatically reduce the rates of new HIV infections.
CDC recommends PrEP for individuals at substantial risk for acquiring HIV, including those who meet any of the following criteria:
- Is in an ongoing relationship with an HIV-positive partner;
Is not in a mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who recently tested HIV-negative; and is a
- gay or bisexual man who has had sex without a condom or been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months;
- heterosexual man or woman who does not regularly use condoms when having sex with partners known to be at risk for HIV (e.g., injecting drug users or bisexual male partners of unknown HIV status); or
- Has, within the past six months, injected illicit drugs and shared equipment or been in a treatment program for injection drug use.
Research demonstrates that PrEP can be an incredibly effective tool for preventing HIV transmission if taken regularly. However, it is not fool-proof. CDC encourages people to use PrEP alongside other proven HIV prevention strategies, such as using condoms, reducing number of partners, and supporting partners who are HIV positive in taking their medications.
CDC’s guidelines come at a time when infection rates among LGBT people remain high, especially young gay and bisexual men of color and transgender women. Check out HRC’s resource on coming out to your doctor as he or she can help determine whether PrEP is right for you.