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Over a Third of Gay and Bi Men Now Take PrEP


That is a 500% increase in three years, according to the CDC.

35% of sexually active gay and bisexual men used PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, to prevent HIV in 2017, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NBCNews reports.

That number represents a nearly 500% jump in PrEP use since 2014, when the CDC estimated that only about 6% of gay and bisexual men nationwide were using the daily pill as a form of HIV prevention. The study was presented Thursday at CROI, an annual HIV/AIDS research conference that took place in Seattle. The results are based on 8,000 interviews across 20 American cities.

Despite the high use of PrEP overall, the CDC says that PrEP use is still too low, especially among gay and bi men of color.

Over 40% of white gay and bi men used PrEP in 2017, compared to 30% of Latinx men and 26% of Black men. In 2016, the CDC released a report saying that, at the current rate of HIV infection, 1 in 2 Black gay or bisexual men could expect to acquire HIV in their lifetime, as well as a quarter of queer Latino men.

The CDC did not offer many reasons why PrEP use is statistically lower among people of color, though nationwide people of color have worse access to medical care than their white counterparts. Even after the adoption of the Affordable Care Act in 2014, a gap persists in rates of coverage between white Americans and other ethnic groups. And, because PrEP requires primary care supervision, even if a patient were to be insured, there are several more barriers to accessing it. A patient has to be out to their doctor, be able to talk about their sexuality with their doctor, get their doctor to prescribe them the medication, and thenhope insurance covers it.

The CDC did, however, find that there is a high level of awareness of PrEP among gay and bisexual men. 86% of Black men know about PrEP, as well as 87% of Latinos and 95% of whites.

A press memo distributed by the CDC said that the study suggests that "efforts to increase PrEP awareness and use among populations at risk is working, but it remains underutilized."

PrEP is also a part of the federal government's plan to end the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic, which Trump announced at this year's state of the union. Of course, the Trump administration is probably unaware of how some of its other policies might be fueling the epidemic.

RELATED | Op-ed: Trump Can't End an HIV/AIDS Epidemic He Doesn't Understand

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Mathew Rodriguez