WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: PrEPare for the holidays

By Dinah Olson, PA-C

 

Happy holidays from Oswego County Opportunity Centers for Reproductive Health!  While you are busy planning your holiday season I’d like you to know about another form of preparation that has been gaining momentum.

 

Have you heard of PrEP? PrEP stands for Pre-exposure prophylaxis. It is an HIV prevention approach that consists of taking daily medication that has been shown to substantially decrease the risk of acquiring HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.

 

PrEP is recommended for people who are at high risk of HIV infection, but who are HIV negative. It is used in addition to other known prevention strategies such as use of condoms. Currently there are 2 medications that may be used. Truvada has been used since 2012 and the more recent option is Descovy. Both medications are pills that are taken once daily.

 

PrEP medications have been shown to be safe and effective. Like any medication, there can be side effects and people should be screened by their healthcare provider to determine if they are a good candidate prior to starting treatment. As you might suspect, this type of care can be costly. The good news is there are many programs in New York that cover the cost of necessary office visits, lab work and the medication.

 

Thankfully, new HIV infections are declining. But did you know 21 percent of new HIV diagnoses in New York State in 2017 were women? In contrast, women represented only 8.4 percent of those who accessed PrEP that same year. Several awareness campaigns have been launched to increase awareness about PrEP and increase its use among eligible women.

 

At OCO’s Centers for Reproductive Health we have trained providers who can make PrEP available to people who may be at increased risk of acquiring HIV.

 

If you know someone who might benefit from PrEP, encourage them to contact their healthcare provider. Sharing this information might be the best holiday gift holiday gift you can give.

 

Resources:

 

NY State PrEP Assistance program hotline number: 1 800-542-2437

 

For more information on PrEP online visit:

cdc.gov

health.ny.gov

prepforsex.org

 

For more information on our services visit us on the web at thecentersatoco.org or visit our Facebook page.

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