Post submitted by Noël Gordon, former HRC Senior Program Specialist for HIV Prevention and Health Equity.
Two recent developments in the fight against HIV underscore the continued importance of proven HIV prevention and treatment strategies.
On Monday, the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors adopted a motion authored by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) more widely available in Los Angeles County (LAC). PrEP is a new HIV prevention strategy that involves taking a once-daily pill to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV. When taken as prescribed by a knowledgeable healthcare provider, PrEP is more than 90 percent effective at preventing HIV.
The measure, which calls for the creation of a comprehensive PrEP program, is part of a broader effort to eliminate new HIV infections in LAC -- an area where nearly 60,000 people are living with HIV and approximately 1,850 LAC residents are diagnosed with HIV each year. Supervisor Kuehl, a longtime champion of LGBT health and wellness, acknowledged that PrEP “is not a silver bullet, it’s not a panacea, but it is another tool that we need to offer our county residents who are at high risk of contracting HIV."
In treatment news, a major study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that people living with HIV are considerably less likely to develop AIDS or experience other negative health outcomes if they begin treatment sooner rather than later. The findings -- while preliminary -- were so compelling that the NIH stopped the study early in order to offer everyone enrolled in it the opportunity to begin treatment right away.
“We now have clear-cut proof that it is of significantly greater health benefit to a person [living with HIV] to start antiretroviral therapy sooner rather than later,” said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “Moreover, early therapy conveys a double benefit, not only improving the health of individuals but at the same time, by lowering their viral load, reducing the risk they will transmit HIV to others. These findings have global implications for the treatment of HIV.”
HRC is committed, through a collective effort, to ending the HIV and AIDS epidemic in the United States. Click here for more information about HRC’s efforts to increase access to PrEP and here for practical information about HIV prevention, treatment and care.