Washington University’s Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP) Program provides ‘tools to end the epidemic’ widely accessible. Last Saturday, December 1, 2018 was the 30th Anniversary of World AIDS Day. It is a day that the international community mourns those who have been lost to HIV/AIDS and celebrates the ongoing progress in treating, preventing and researching the disease.
In the interview, Dr. Rupa describes three primary means to accomplish the U.S. goal of no new infections.
- Identifying people with HIV who are not in care or those who left care with the goal to get them back in care. It is known that those who have immeasurable viral load are less likely to transmit HIV to their partners. In fact, the National Institutes of Health have recently implemented a campaign ‘Undetectable = Untransmittable or U=U’, which means if you’re on suppressive ART, HIV undetectable, you are sexually noninfectious. The risk is zero. U=U is a simple but hugely important campaign based on a solid foundation of scientific evidence.
- Vaccine Development – We are quite a few years away from a highly effective vaccine, but there is headway of up to 30% success in ongoing studies in areas where there are hyper epidemics.
- PrEP – 100% effective if taken daily as prescribed. Studies indicate, however, that the prescribed method is followed about 92% of the time.
Despite the evident biomedical efficacy of the PrEP pill, Patel suggested that some the most important aspects of her work with PrEP are education and open dialogue, saying, “The biggest part of the program is creating a safe space for any individual that wants to come and talk about … sexual health.”