NY Dept of Health cleares way for PrEP

From DNAinfo New York

The [New York] Department of Health has cleared the way for more New Yorkers who have not been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS to use the HIV medication Truvada to try to prevent new infections. After months of anticipation, the Health Department’s AIDS Institute released thorough clinical guidelines for pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly known as PrEP, which is a daily dose of HIV medication that people who are HIV-negative but at-risk of contracting the virus can take to drastically reduce their chance of infection.

The drug, known by its prescription name Truvada, can reduce the chance of infection by as much as 73 percent, according to studies funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. However, the AIDS Institute stressed that PrEP alone was not enough to prevent new infections. “PrEP should not be offered as a sole intervention for HIV prevention. PrEP should only be prescribed as part of a comprehensive prevention plan,” the report says.

Advocates say the drug is needed, in combination with prophylactics including condoms, because the HIV infection rate in New York is growing among certain populations — including young men who have sex with men and injection drug users — even as the statewide infection rate is shrinking. “PrEP may be an effective option to augment behavior change in these high-risk populations,” according to the report, which found the new infections are primarily in minority communities.

Many AIDS organizations have recommended PrEP since the Food and Drug Administration approved it in July 2012, but the new state guidelines are a major step forward in increasing its use among at-risk populations, officials said. Advocates hope the state’s endorsement of the strategy will lead to more doctors prescribing it.

 

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