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Of the estimated 1.23 million HIV-negative Americans that could benefit from pre-exposure prophylactics (PrEP) — medications that prevent HIV-transmission by nearly 100 percent — only about 80,000 people (less than seven percent) have gotten prescriptions for PrEP medications like Truvada. What gives?
The main reason people aren’t getting on PrEP is that physicians are mostly unfamiliar with the drug and so they prescribe it less often than they should. The unfamiliarity stems from the fact that before it was released in 2012, PrEP was mostly prescribed by HIV-specialists. Currently, the U.S. has a small number of HIV-specialists (about 1,713), and so those specialists think that that generalists should prescribe PrEP. Paradoxically, general doctors think HIV-specialists should be the ones write prescriptions for it. In the end, no one receives it.
The secondary reason is more troubling: a majority of doctors in several surveys admit that they’re less likely to prescribe PrEP if they think their patients will become sluttier, abandon condoms and increase their chances of getting STDs. Also, PrEP is still too expensive for some people who are not covered by certain Medicaid programs and private insurers, even though one PrEP manufacturer (Gilead) has a co-pay assistance program.
(featured image via Jasn)