Valleywise Health Marks “PrEP Awareness Week” by Expanding Access to Medication That Can Prevent HIV
By Brian O'Malley -
Thursday Oct 22, 2020
Advancements in medications to treat and prevent the transmission of HIV have come a long way since the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and 90’s. But with more than 11,000 Maricopa County residents living with HIV today, awareness of HIV, and more importantly the medications available to stop transmission continue to be a focus of Valleywise Health. In recognition of National Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Awareness Week (Oct. 25 – 30), Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell is offering walk-in HIV testing and PrEP prescription consultation all week from 8 am to 5 pm, no appointment necessary.
PrEP is a once a day pill that prevents HIV transmission. It boasts a greater than 99% rate of effectiveness if taken regularly and studies have shown PrEP is safe and has a low rate of minor side effects. PrEP is for individuals who are HIV negative, so the first step is to get an HIV test. There is a medication option available for anyone regardless of sex or sexual orientation.
Dr. Ann Khalsa, the medical director at Valleywise Community Health Center – McDowell, is a passionate proponent of HIV prevention and PrEP. She notes that “HIV infection is preventable. But we are still nowhere near providing PrEP to the estimated 25,000 Arizonans who could benefit from HIV prevention. PrEP is so effective that it is a top-level recommendation from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force and is a key component, along with testing and treatment, of the U.S. national goal to prevent new cases of HIV and end this decades long epidemic.”
PrEP does not protect users from Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like syphilis or chlamydia. Using PrEP and condoms together provides protection from HIV and most STIs.