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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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CDC Urges Anti-HIV Pill for People at High Risk

Targeted groups include people with an infected partner or those who don't practice safe sex


The CDC is offering PrEP providers with support to help make sure that people on the regimen adhere to it as closely as possible -- always an issue, the agency said. Pills need to be taken regularly or the level of protection from PrEP drops dramatically, the CDC noted.

That's why safe sex practices -- condoms, especially -- remain important.

One expert in the field said that preventing HIV will always take more than a pill.

"We applaud the CDC for acknowledging the effectiveness of PrEP to reduce the risk of HIV infection among those individuals at greatest risk of HIV transmission," said Dr. Michael Mullen, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.

"However, it must be emphasized that PrEP cannot and should not be used alone as prophylaxis against HIV infection -- rather, PrEP must be used in combination with other proven preventive measures, including practicing safe sex, being tested regularly for STDs, and knowing your and your partner's HIV status," he said.

Dr. Dawn Smith is the epidemiologist in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention who led the development of the guidelines. She stressed that, "individuals will have to decide with their doctor if PrEP is right for them, but for some, this may offer a much-needed strategy to help protect themselves from HIV infection."

But the strategy will require teamwork, she added.

"PrEP is a new approach to HIV prevention that requires continuing collaboration between patients and providers, as effectiveness requires adherence to daily medication and regular medical visits for monitoring, counseling and testing," Smith said.

The new guidelines were published May 14 in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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