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2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections

March 6, 2018 – A new CDC analysis suggests HIV prevention pill is not reaching most Americans who could benefit – especially people of color.

In the first detailed analysis by race and by risk group, CDC researchers found that only a small percentage of Americans who could potentially benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily HIV prevention pill, have been prescribed it. Furthermore, while two-thirds of people who could potentially benefit are African American or Latino, they account for the smallest percentage of prescriptions to date. The findings were presented today at the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston by Dawn K. Smith, MD, MPH, MS, epidemiologist and medical officer in CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Dr. Smith presented the new CDC estimates of PrEP needs and an examination of available data on PrEP prescriptions from a national database of prescriptions filled by commercial pharmacies in the United States.

Additionally, two CDC poster presentations illustrated research that found syringe services programs (SSPs) decreased injection-related risk behaviors, increased uptake of other key testing and prevention services, and increased disposal of syringes safely in a community experiencing a rapidly spreading HIV outbreak among people who inject drugs (PWID).

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Graphics: CROI 2018 – PrEP

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This graphic depicts a pie chart that illustrates the percentage of African Americans and Latinos who could benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP): 44 percent of African Americans (approximately 500,000 people) and 25 percent of Latinos (nearly 300,000 people). It also depicts a prescription pill bottle that illustrates the percentage of African Americans and Latinos who were actually prescribed the PrEP from 2015-2016: 1% of African Americans (7,000 people) and 3% of Latinos (7,600 people). This contrast illustrates the troubling fact that PrEP is not reaching most who could potentially benefit—especially people of color. It is important to note that prescription data in this analysis is limited to those filled at retail pharmacies or mail order services from September 2015-August 2016; and that racial and ethnic information are not available for one-third of the prescription data.

HIV prevention pill is not reaching most who could potentially benefit – especially African Americans and Latinos

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In 2015, there were approximately 1.1 million Americans who could potentially benefit from PrEP: 500,000 African Americans, 300,000 Latinos, and 300,000 whites. However, analysis of available data on PrEP prescriptions finds that 7,000 prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies or mail order services for African-Americans and only 7,600 for Latinos during a similar time period (September 2015- August 2016). While racial and ethnic data were not available for one-third of the prescription data, the analysis shows a substantial prevention need.

This graphic depicts a quotation from Dr. Jonathan Mermin, Director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “One of our most powerful tools for HIV prevention remains largely on pharmacy shelves. PrEP can be a potent prescription that strengthens prevention options for people who are at high risk for HIV infection.”

Jonathan Mermin MD, MPH, discusses the untapped potential of PrEP

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“One of our most powerful tools for HIV prevention remains largely on pharmacy shelves. PrEP can be a potent prescription that strengthens prevention options for people who are at high risk for HIV infection.”

This graphic depicts a quotation from Dr. Eugene McCray, Director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP) at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “Closing gaps is an important step for PrEP. CDC is committed to equipping providers and all people living with and at risk for HIV with the information and support needed to maximize the impact of PrEP and all proven strategies.”

Eugene McCray, MD, discusses the importance of closing PrEP gaps

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“Closing gaps is an important step for PrEP. CDC is committed to equipping providers and all people living with and at risk for HIV with the information and support needed to maximize the impact of PrEP and all proven strategies.”

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