CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is launching a new effort to promote an effective tool that can help prevent new HIV infections among those at risk.
PrEP, an abbreviation for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is a daily prescription pill that can help HIV-negative people who are at high risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use.
“For people at risk, PrEP can be both a way to protect themselves, and their partners,” said Brittany Wardle, Prevention Program manager with the WDH Communicable Disease Unit.
Wardle said PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 70 percent.
When PrEP is combined with regular, correct condom use, the risks go down even more.
“While HIV is now considered a treatable chronic disease, it is still a serious condition we want to help people prevent,” Wardle said. “PrEP can do that very effectively.”
Wardle said PrEP may be a good HIV prevention option for people who:
- Do not use condoms or only use them sometimes.
- Are open to consistently taking a daily pill.
- Are in an open relationship or having anal and/or vaginal sex with multiple partners without condoms.
- Are having sex with someone but do not know the person’s HIV status.
- Have injected drugs, shared needles, or been in drug treatment in the past six months.
Because PrEP is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, private insurance policies may cover PrEP costs, as well as related doctor’s visits and lab tests.
“We recommend people call their insurance provider to find out about co-pays, deductibles and any required pre-authorization forms,” Wardle said.
Financial Support Available
People who do not have health insurance or who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, can request financial support and guidance through Advancing Access, visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or enroll in the Gilead Advancing Access® Co-Pay Program.
Wardle noted lifetime HIV treatment can cost more than $300,000.
Actions also recommended by WDH to help prevent HIV infection include abstinence, limiting the number of partners, correct and consistent condom use and getting tested before starting a new sexual relationship.
To learn more about PrEP and why it matters for Wyoming residents at risk for HIV, visit https://wyprepmatters.com/.
To learn more about the risks for HIV infection, visit www.knowyo.org or contact a medical professional. The www.knowyo.orgsite provides options for no or low-cost HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis testing.