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New Year, New Opportunities: Breakthroughs in HIV Research

New Year, New Opportunities: Breakthroughs in HIV Research

HIV was first identified in the 1980s and has been a constant subject of research and debate. While there wasn’t much information available regarding this disease back then, we have a wealth of information readily available to us now, from when it began to how it causes illness in humans. Since its origination, over 700,000 people have lost their lives to this infection, and 1.7 million more have been infected by it. 

Global Impact of HIV

The world took a significant hit when people became infected by HIV in 2019 alone. Approximately 38 million people worldwide live with HIV in their systems, more than two-thirds of whom reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Yes, some medications are more prevalent now than ever before to control HIV’s spread and reduce its viral transmission. However, it has continued to be the leading cause of death and posed a significant health threat to millions worldwide. 

Breakthrough Prevention Strategies and Cures

The Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative in the U.S. provides everyone with a roadmap that will help reduce the overall HIV infection rates by 90 percent by the year 2030. How? With the help of preexposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP, it is approximately 100 percent effective in preventing the spread of HIV when taken by people as advised by their physicians. 

Understanding PrEP and Its Effectiveness

Preexposure prophylaxis is incredibly effective in preventing the spread of HIV. When one is prescribed PrEP, it must be taken daily, which reduces the risk of infection by 99 percent. When combined with other forms of protection such as condoms, it can eradicate the risk. It combines two drugs in one pill and should be taken every day to reduce the harms associated with active sex lives in all genders. Let’s take a look at some statistics:

  • Insertive partners have a much lower chance of getting infected with HIV than those receiving. 
  • Studies have shown that for daily PrEP users, the chance of HIV exposure through drug injections is reduced by 84 percent. 

There are currently three forms of approved PrEP pills available by prescription:

  1. Truvada
  2. Generic Truvada
  3. Descovy Medication

All three of these medications offer similar levels of protection against HIV. 

Insurance Coverage

Medicaid and Medicare now cover PrEP and most prevention pills for HIV at either zero or low cost under the Affordable Care Act. There are also assistance programs that act as a backstop. Earlier in 2021, PrEP was labeled as a required Preventive Service under the ACA, which essentially meant that all insurers must cover it at no cost. 

ACA and PrEP

A well-known part of the Affordable Care Act is its preventative care services. This part essentially states certain services that absolutely must be covered at no cost by most commercial health insurance plans out there. The Act itself isn’t perfect and can sometimes cause frustration for patients, but where it does help is with medical bills. In June of 2019, PrEP received an A-rating, which carved the way for services like PrEP, clinical visits, and lab tests to be covered by insurance companies for all commercially insured Americans. What does an A-rating mean, you ask? It refers to Persons at high risk of HIV acquisition. 

A Future Without HIV 

A future without HIV is not hard to envision, with all the medical advances in 2021, up until now. There are currently over 170,000 users of PrEP, whereas a million others have yet to get on board. ACA made access to PrEP easier for nearly two-thirds of the American population under 65. Yes, indeed, PrEP might just be the future of preventative care against the spread of HIV infection, and the sooner most people get on the bandwagon, the better it is for the world. 

Are you interested in getting tested for HIV so your loved ones can get started on their preventative care against the virus? Don’t know where to start? Reach out to us at Think Before You Sleep and book your test at a location near you. 

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