35 percent of ‘high-risk’ gay and bisexual men take PrEP in US

35 percent of ‘high-risk’ gay and bisexual men take PrEP in US

35 percent of gay and bisexual men in the US who are considered at “high risk” of contracting HIV took PrEP in 2017, according to new research.

PrEP – or pre-exposure prophylaxis – is taken by people who do not have HIV, but who may be at risk of contracting the infection. The medication significantly reduces a person’s chances of getting HIV.

The new research was presented in Seattle this week at the 2019 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, an annual HIV/AIDS conference, according to NBC News.

The research – which was based on 8,000 interviews across 20 American cities – also revealed that there has been a 500 percent increase in the number of high-risk gay and bisexual men taking PrEP since 2014.

Researchers also found that white gay and bisexual men are more likely to take PrEP than other groups, at 40 percent, compared to 30 percent of Latinos and 26 percent of African-Americans.

While PrEP is considered highly effective as a preventative measure, the cost is still extremely high in some quarters, meaning many gay and bisexual men struggle to afford it.

The study also found high awareness of PrEP among the gay and bisexual men interviewed, with 95 percent of white men, 86 percent of Latinos and 87 percent of African-Americans having heard of the drug.

PrEP remains ‘underutilised’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the findings suggest that efforts to increase awareness of PrEP are working, but that the drug still remains underutilised.

The increase in the number of men taking PrEP will come as welcome news to many in the LGBT+ community, however more will have to be done if the US government wants to reach targets set out in its new plan for combating HIV.

In a new plan called “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America”, the US government say they aim to reduce new HIV infections by 90 percent in the next 10 years.

A third person may have been cured of HIV


The CDC noted in its press release to NBC News that there are one million Americans who are at “substantial risk” of contracting HIV who could benefit from PrEP – but the overall number of those taking it is just 10 percent.

Those considered at substantial risk include those who take drugs with needles and heterosexual people.

Second patient is ‘cured’ of HIV

Meanwhile, this week saw a landmark case that saw a man in the UK cured of HIV – making him the second person in the world to be cured of the infection.

The patient received a bone marrow transplant from a donor who has a rare HIV resistant gene. 18 months after receiving the transplant, the patient is showing no sign of the HIV virus – despite no longer taking his antiretroviral drugs.

Doctors in the Netherlands may also have cured another patient in the same way – although they say it is too early to be definitive.

“Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach.”

– President Donald Trump

Speaking in February, US President Donald Trump pledged to end HIV/AIDS, saying: “No force in history has done more to advance the human condition than American freedom. In recent years we have made remarkable progress in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

“Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach.”

He said that he aims to “defeat AIDS in America.”

However, Trump has previously come under fire for his inflammatory rhetoric around HIV/AIDS funding. In a 1997 interview, he said he would force the late Princess Diana to take a HIV test before having sex with her.