Prevent The Transmission of HIV
Heading into the new year, it is important to recognize a very important tool that can be used to improve public health. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis and is related to pre-treatment medication used to prevent the transmission the HIV virus. PrEp is tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF)/emtricitabine, and it is taken as a single pill once daily with little adverse effects. There have been significant strides in HIV treatment, but regardless of treatment, transmission is still common. Part of the reason is because 1 in 8 people of the 1.2 million people that are infected in the U.S. are unaware of their HIV status. On top of that, only ½ of the people that know their status are receiving effective antiretroviral therapy. For women in our office, we are recommending STD testing at least annually, but STD testing is not a preventative measure.
As a clinician, part of my job is to educate my patient population about preventative health measures that can be taken to promote a healthy lifestyle. PrEP is over 90% effective when taken as a daily medication with proper adherence. It is my goal to identify high risk individuals who can protect themselves by using PrEP to help decrease transmission rates. Unfortunately, less than 20% of people who could benefit from PrEP in the U.S. are even using the medication.
Groups at risk for acquiring HIV include: women who wish to conceive who have a HIV+ partner, having a bacterial STD in the last 6 months, having sexual activity with partners of unknown HIV status, injection drug users, engaging in commercial sex work, and not using condoms consistently. These risk factors should prompt a discussion about PrEP and should be initiated only after education and decision making with each individual. Moving forward in 2020, I want to help this public health initiative and break down stigmas associated with using the medication to further decrease transmission rates.
Riddell, J., Amico, R., & Mayer, K. (2018). HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis. A review. Journal of American
Medical Association. (319), 1261-1266.