2021 seemed to be the year of breakthroughs for HIV cure research, but finding one still remains elusive. HIV prevention drugs remain the go-to for many, and now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention wants dramatic expansion of access to HIV prevention. On Wednesday, December 8th, the CDC released its newest guidelines encouraging more frequent conversation about HIV prevention meds making healthcare providers and patients, in order to encourage HIV medication expansion.
The guidelines also highlighted the recently approved PrEP medications by the Food and Drug Administration. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis, and it reduces the risk of HIV by sex by up to 99%. However, as effective as PrEP is, implementation seems to be a significant issue.
According to Dr. Todd Ellerin, a director of infectious diseases at South Shore Health, there is a significant implementation gap in administering PrEP drugs. The gap comes from healthcare providers’ failure to discuss PrEP with their patients routinely. Also, patients may be uncomfortable sharing details of their sexual practices with their physicians.
The new CDC guidelines aim to address this gap. It recommends that medical doctors discuss PrEP with every sexually active patient. Dr. Darien Sutton, a board-certified emergency care physician, described the HIV medication expansion guidelines as a valuable update as many patients are unaware of PrEP and its benefits.
The CDC recommends PrEP for people at high risk of contracting HIV with HIV-positive sexual partners and those with a bacterial sexually transmitted infection. The guideline also recommends PrEP for people who inject drugs and have HIV-positive injection partners. Currently, the most effective PrEP drugs are Truvada and Descovy.
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