According a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some 35% of gay and bisexual men at a high risk of contracting HIV are now taking PrEP.
The statistic, reported by the CDC at this week’s Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI) in Seattle, is a major jump from a 2014 report, which placed the same demographic’s use of PrEP at just 6%. Despite the nearly 500% increase in PrEP use, though, the CDC says 35% still isn’t high enough for queer men at a high risk of infection. This is especially true for “gay and bisexual men of color,” who are at a disproportionately higher risk of contracting HIV than white gay and bi men.
The CDC’s new report, which was based on a 2017 survey of some 8,000 queer men in 20 U.S. cities, also indicated racial disparities among PrEP users, reports NBC News. While some 40% of white gay and bi respondents reported taking PrEP, only 30% of their Latinx counterparts—and about 26% of their black counterparts—were also on the drug.
“Of the estimated 1 million Americans at substantial risk for HIV and who could benefit from PrEP, fewer than 10% are actually using this medication,” the CDC noted.
— Greg Folkers (@greg_folkers) March 8, 2019
The high costs associated with PrEP, which reportedly runs upwards of $1,600 for a 30-day supply without health insurance, continue to make the drug inaccessible to low-income Americans.
Meanwhile, other doctors who presented their research at CROI 2019 indicated that the world’s second and third HIV-positive patients may now be permanently HIV-free following cancer-related bone marrow transplants. Experts say there’s hope for a cure; however, since bone marrow transplants are risky procedures with serious side effects that can last a lifetime, preventative measures—like taking PrEP or using condoms during sex—are still relatively accessible and potentially life-saving resources that remain essential tools in the fight against the epidemic.