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CDC Says not enough People know about Breakthrough HIV Prevention Pill

Update Date: Nov 25, 2015 10:23 AM EST

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Tuesday that not enough people know about an effective HIV prevention treatment known as protective therapy, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

The government agency reported that 34 percent of health care providers, such as primary care doctors and nurses, have never heard of this therapy, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. Researchers stated that PrEP, which comes in the form of a daily pill (Truvada), can slash infection risk for high-risk people by more than 70 percent. People who are high-risk generally have more sex partners and tend to share needles with others.

The CDC added that about 22,000 people within the U.S. get this treatment but around 1.2 million adults should be made aware of what PrEP could possibly do for them. The 1.2 million includes 492,000 sexually active gay and bisexual men (one in four), 115,000 adults who use needles (one in five) and 620,000 sexually active heterosexual adults (one in 200).

PrEP, which costs roughly $10,000 per year, is also covered by Medicaid and the majority of private insurance plans.

"Doctors need more prep about PrEP," said Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director at the CDC. She stressed the importance of "collaborative action from clinicians, medical and professional associations and groups that implement HIV-prevention efforts."

Some of the side effects of PrEP include diarrhea, nausea and weight loss.

"PrEP isn't right for everyone. No single method is, but it's right for some people, and when the men and women at high risk adhere to PrEP or whatever prevention methods work for them, we can make gains in national efforts," said Eugene McCray, director of the division of HIV/AIDS prevention at the CDC, reported by the Washington Post.

The CDC has put aside more than $200 million to raise awareness about and promote the usage of PrEP in high-risk people.

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