HIV Medicine Association Issues Statement on Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Recommendation

Still HIV negative but at risk of an infection? Take this pill, experts say

Still HIV negative but at risk of an infection? Take this pill, experts say

In this review, the task force reports finding convincing evidence that PrEP is of substantial benefit in decreasing the risk of HIV infection in persons at high risk of HIV acquisition.

"The significance of the new recommendations lies in the large number of individuals in the United States whose insurance coverage for HIV preventive services, notably PrEP, will be favorably affected", said Dr Rochelle Walensky and Dr David Paltiel in an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"There are highly effective preventive interventions that can help us toward the goal of ending the HIV epidemic in the USA", said Owens, who is also an investigator at VA Palo Alto Health Care System "However, we know not enough people receive these interventions".

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of experts that issues recommendations about evidence-based preventive health care, issued final recommendations this week that call for screening everyone ages 15 to 65 for HIV as well as providing PrEP to patients at high risk of contracting the virus.

The task force's recommendation could potentially expand access to PrEP, as its endorsement carries weight and requires many insurers to cover prescriptions at no cost to the patient, said Lindsey Dawson, an assistant director for HIV policy at the Kaiser Family Foundation, in an interview. "Today's treatments help people live long, healthy lives and lower the risk of passing HIV to others". About 1 million could take PrEP, but only 90,000 prescriptions were filled in 2015, according to the CDC. A generic version of PrEP is expected in 2020.

PrEP, which is sold as a once-daily pill under the brand name Truvada, has been shown to be highly effective in preventing the transmission of HIV when patients take it regularly.

Side effects are mild and reversible and include problems with the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract, the Task Force notes. There is also some concern that PrEP may increase the spread of other sexually transmitted infections if users decrease condom use because they mistakenly believe the pill protects against those diseases, too. Some older or younger people at high risk for HIV should also get HIV tests.

Less than half of US adults have been screened for HIV, and screening rates are low even among high-risk individuals like injection drug users, according to the CDC.

As a result, the new recommendation from the Task Force is likely to influence insurance companies to fall in line with the health bill's instruction.

"Testing is especially recommended for those engaging in high exposure behaviors, men who have sex with men, injection drug users, sex workers, etc.", Volberding added.

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