About 1.2 million people in the US are HIV positive — and each year, that number grows by about 40,000. That's why the US government announced today that it wants more people to take Truvada, also known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. When taken as prescribed, Truvada reduces the sexual transmission of HIV by more than 90 percent; the pill can also help drug users by reducing transmission rates by more than 70 percent.
By looking at people who are most at risk for HIV, the CDC has determined that 1 in 4 sexually active gay men should take the HIV prevention pill Truvada, according to a report released today. But that's not all — the CDC also wants 1 in 5 injectable drug users, and 1 in 200 heterosexual adults to take the HIV preventative.
"People who can benefit from PrEP aren't taking it."
"Many people who can benefit from PrEP aren't taking it," the authors of the report write. "If more health care providers know about and prescribe PrEP, more HIV infections could be prevented."
Today's CDC report was produced by studying the sexual risk profiles of different groups of people in the US. That means that the recommendations are based on how "at risk" a certain population might be. Heterosexual adults who have multiple partners and have unprotected sex with people who inject drugs are considered high-risk, for instance. Gay and bisexual mean who have an HIV positive partner should also receive counseling about Truvada. (For a full list of risk factors, click here.)
The report's conclusions mean that at least 1.2 million US adults should consider taking Truvada every day. But making that happen will be an uphill battle. Right now, only 21,000 people take the daily pill; and a third of primary care doctors and nurses have never heard of the drug.