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Dr Stella Safo Emphasizes the Importance of PrEP for Ending the HIV Epidemic

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one of the best interventions we have for preventing and stopping HIV transmission, explained Stella A. Safo, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is one of the best interventions we have for preventing and stopping HIV transmission, explained Stella A. Safo, MD, assistant professor of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Transcript

With the Trump administration's plan to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, a crucial part of this will be stopping new infections. So, how important will access and adherence to PrEP be for this?

I think not only PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis], but also post-exposure prophylaxis is really important. One of the best parts of my job is that I get to work on the post-exposure prophylaxis, the PEP hotline that we have in the healthcare system that I work for, where if a patient’s been exposed, usually through sexual exposure, they’ll call the hotline and let us know and we’ll give them the HIV medications right away to stop them from converting to HIV.

That’s one example of what’s required to really meet our country’s goals of stopping the transmission of HIV in the timeframe that we’ve outlined. So, you not only need something like a post-exposure prophylaxis, but you absolutely need pre-exposure prophylaxis. One of the teenage patients that I work with, and it was devastating to hear this, he was infected the very first time he had a sexual experience with someone. It was after he got infected with HIV that he then found out about PrEP, and he said, “I wish someone had told me about this. I wish I knew about this.” And what we’re finding is that PrEP is really great for some populations. In terms of being great I mean have made it into certain populations in terms of being utilized. But it hasn’t made it into others like black or Latino men who have sex with men, who are still struggling to really have access.

PrEP is one of the best interventions we have for preventing and stopping HIV transmission, so we as clinicians and public health experts and health systems have to do a much better job of really thinking about PrEP use holistically and I would say that we still have a ways to go. But I think overall, everyone’s realizing there’s so much potential and if we can sort of organize ourselves, there’s a lot of very good work we can do with PrEP and other modalities like PEP.

 
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