Pill Available at UHC for HIV Prevention

12/23/2015

The Infectious Disease Clinic at University Hospital & Clinics (UHC) is now offering a service aimed at preventing the spread of HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), which weakens or destroys the body’s immune system. The Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Clinic prescribes medication and offers guidance to HIV-negative patients at high risk of exposure through sexual activity or injection drug use.

The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals’ (DHH) most recent quarterly report ranked Louisiana 3rd in the nation in rate of HIV cases based on population percentage. The Lafayette region showed more than 1,500 patients living with HIV in the Lafayette region.

A pill called Truvada®, prescribed at the PrEP Clinic, contains medications that work to prevent acquiring HIV. The medication has traditionally been part of the treatment regimen for HIV-positive patients. But in 2012, the pill was approved for prevention purposes in the at-risk HIV-negative population. Infectious disease providers are usually the best location for patients to receive this medication because the practitioners are more familiar with HIV, its stigma and the medication used to prevent HIV acquisition.

The tablet, taken daily, gives people who might be exposed to HIV through sex an effective defense, particularly in conjunction when used with other preventive measures. The PrEP Clinic also provides condoms, sex education and regular screenings to promote those additional measures. According to AIDS.gov, studies have shown up to a 92% lower infection rate for at-risk people taking the medication properly.

Dr. Nicholas Sells at the UHC clinic explains that this medication is ideal for couples where one partner is HIV positive and the other partner is not. Truvada can be prescribed to an HIV-negative partner while the HIV-positive partner maintains regular treatment. In addition, individuals with multiple sexual partners within high risk populations can benefit from Truvada’s HIV protective effects. Dr. Sells says the prescription is covered under most insurance plans.

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