|Study shows PrEP reduces HIV infections|
|Thursday, April 10, 2014 8:10 PM|
BY STEPHANIE GROVES
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people who have STDs (sexually transmitted disease) such as gonorrhea, herpes, and syphilis are more likely to get HIV compared to people who are STD-free. The same behaviors that put people at risk for acquiring STDs can put them at risk for getting HIV.
Each year, April marks the observance of STD Awareness Month and it is the time for individuals, health care providers, and community-based organizations to encourage and bring a renewed sense of enthusiasm and focus to STD awareness and prevention efforts throughout the month.
PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is one of the newest treatments being studied for the prevention of HIV infections. The CDC reports that several studies showed that PrEP was effective in reducing the risk of getting HIV infection.
Allen County Health Department Director of Nursing Becky Dershem said the research of the PrEP medication is in the preliminary stages. In 2013, the county documented nine new HIV/AIDS cases.
PrEP is a prevention option for people who are at high risk of getting HIV. It’s a pill that contains two HIV medications — used to stop the virus growing in people who are already infected — which must be taken everyday and used with other prevention options such as condoms.
• Among men who have sex with men who were given PrEP medication and said they took most of their daily doses, PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by 73 percent or more, up to 92 percent for some.
• Among coupled men and women where one had HIV infection and the other did not and said they took most of their daily doses, PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by up to 90 percent.
• Among men and women who entered the studies as individuals and who said they took most of their daily doses, PrEP reduced the risk of HIV infection by up to 85 percent.
In one study, only about 1 in 4 women had PrEP medication found in their blood when it was checked and that study found no protection against HIV infection.
Dershem cautions people about the “cavalier” mindset that predominates society, which is, there’s a pill or medication for everything. She said they are only kidding themselves and every person has to be accountable.
“The medications currently in use won’t be able to hold off disease if we continue to use them at the rate we use them,” Dershem warned. “There are not a lot of new antibiotics being developed.”
Dershem said the most predominant STD in Allen County is Chlamydia with 143 new cases in the first three months of 2014.
“We are on track to exceed last year’s numbers — 510 new cases — if everything stays at the same pace,” she said. “Our Chlamydia rate is 45 points higher than the state of Ohio’s.”
Gonorrhea is the second most reported STD in the county, with 86 cases reported last year, followed by Syphilis, which tallied 3 new cases.
The CDC reports there are 20 million new STDs cases, including 50,000 new HIV infections, occurring every year. Being infected with genital herpes makes people three times more likely to get infected with HIV, if exposed. In addition, data collected from several major U.S. cities indicate that nearly 45 percent of gay, bisexual, or other men who have sex with men with syphilis are also infected with HIV.