UHS wants people at risk of HIV to be PrEPared
In 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed a plan, known as “Ending the Epidemic in New York State,” which calls for reducing the number of new HIV infections to just 750 (from an estimated 3,000) by 2020 and achieving the first-ever decrease in HIV prevalence in the state. The three-point plan: 1) Identifies persons with HIV who remain undiagnosed and links them to healthcare, 2) keeps persons diagnosed with HIV within healthcare, to maximize virus suppression, so they remain healthy and prevent further transmission, and 3) facilitates access to PrEP for high-risk persons to keep them HIV-negative. To complement our existing comprehensive HIV services, UHS has launched a program to offer patients pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that can prevent HIV infection.
The drug is designed for people who are HIV-negative but whose lifestyles place them at especially high risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. “PrEP is a daily medicine that can reduce a person’s chance of getting the virus,” said Scott Rosman, NP-c, AAHIVS, Clinical Director of the UHS HIV Program at UHS Binghamton Primary Care. “It can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body.” PrEP may benefit: HIV-negative men who have sex with men who have an HIV-positive partner, have multiple partners, have a partner with multiple partners, or have a partner whose HIV status is unknown; it can also benefit HIV-negative men who have unprotected sex or who have recently had a sexually transmitted disease. It may also benefit: other male or female patients who could be exposed to HIV in similar ways through sex or drug use, and those who share needles or equipment to inject drugs.
Daily use of PrEP reduces the risk of contracting the virus from sex by more than 90 percent and, among people who inject drugs, by more than 70 percent. UHS Binghamton Primary Care has begun holding informational sessions about the medication for Southern Tier residents who are stakeholders in UHS’ efforts to fight AIDS. The primary care office emphasizes a comprehensive approach to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of HIV and AIDS, and is committed to doing everything possible to stop the AIDS epidemic, Mr. Rosman said. “For those who need treatment, medication and support, we work closely with many community partner organizations and connect patients with coordinated care throughout the region,” he noted.
UHS is collaborating with the New York State and Broome County health departments to inform and educate the public about the availability of PrEP. Offering the medication is one of the ways UHS is working in tandem with the governor's three-point plan to halt the AIDS epidemic in the Empire State. “Ending the Epidemic” is maximizing the availability of lifesaving, transmission-interrupting treatment for HIV, saving lives and improving the health of New Yorkers, Mr. Rosman said. It will move New York from a history of having the worst HIV epidemic in the country to a future where new infections are rare and those living with the disease have normal lifespans with few complications.