ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — June 27th is national HIV Testing Day. This day brings community partners and healthcare providers together to promote testing, prevention, and treatment to reduce the spread of HIV. But a new study shows there may be a breakdown when it comes to prevention.
With new treatments and medications, HIV is no longer a death sentence. That’s especially true for Maricela Berumen who has lived with the disease for nearly 20 years.
“HIV doesn’t have me. I have HIV.”, states Berumen.
In addition to treatments, new advances have been made in in preventing the disease as well. One of the newest tools is a preventive medication called PrEP.
“Only ten percent of the over one million individuals that are really vulnerable to HIV were actually accessing PrEP. This is a once daily medication that individuals can take to significantly reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.”
But a survey of doctors discovered only about half of them prescribed PrEP to HIV-vulnerable patients. So how can someone get access to PrEP? Since a prescription is required, check with a primary doctor first. If you don’t have a doctor, use an HIV services locator to find a local PrEP provider. If medical insurance is a problem, a program called Ready, Set, Prep provides free medications. Giving access to care to end the HIV epidemic.
Another avenue to access PrEP: pharmacists. Colorado, Nevada, and California have all passed laws allowing pharmacists to prescribe PrEP. The study also found that primary care physicians were more likely to prescribe than infectious disease specialists.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer
PrEP FOR HIV PREVENTION
BACKGROUND: HIV was first discovered in 1981 and is considered one of humanity’s deadliest and most persistent epidemics. Also known as human immunodeficiency virus, HIV is a virus that attacks cells that assist the body in fighting infection, making a person more vulnerable to other infections and diseases. It can be spread by contact with certain bodily fluids of a person infected with HIV. It is most commonly spread through unprotected sex, or through sharing drug needles. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS, also known as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Once a person has HIV, their body can’t get rid of it and there is no current effective cure. However, by taking HIV medicine, people can live long and healthy lives and prevent transmitting it to their sexual partners. Some effective methods to prevent getting HIV through sex or drug use include pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).
TREATMENT AND PREVENTION: There are currently two FDA-approved daily oral medications for PrEP, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting the infection from sex or injection drug use. It can also stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body. The medications help reduce the risk of getting infected from sex by about 99 percent when taken as prescribed, and among people who use drugs by needles, it reduces the risk by at least 74 percent. PrEP is considered safe and there have been no significant health effects seen in people who are HIV-negative and have taken PrEP for up to 5 years. Some common reported side effects are nausea, diarrhea, headache, fatigue, and stomach pain. These side effects are usually not serious and go away over time. PrEP protects against HIV, but not against other sexually transmitted infections or other types of infections.
NEW GENE-EDITING THERAPY: Scientists at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, and investigators at Excision BioTherapeutics, Inc., are collaborating on the first clinical trial of a gene-editing therapy for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) infection. “This is an unprecedented and exciting time for all, particularly for those who have been searching for solutions to the HIV/AIDS pandemic over the last 40 years, including scientists and health care providers,” said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Inflammation, Director of the Center for Neurovirology and Gene Editing, and Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine. The trial is designed to evaluate the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of EBT-101, which is based on the gene-editing technology known as CRISPR and is tailored specifically for excising the genetic material of HIV from infected cells. Researchers are going a step further and carrying out studies in non-human primates. Their findings have demonstrated the effectiveness of the CRISPR-based technology and have played a critical role in advancing EBT-101 into clinical studies.
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