Valleywise Health Marks â€œPrEP Awareness Weekâ€ 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 1980â€™s and 90â€™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 â€“ 30), Valleywise Community Health Center â€“ 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 â€“ McDowell, is a passionate proponent of HIV prevention and PrEP. She notes that â€œHIV 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.â€
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.