Despite Increasing Rates of PrEP Usage, Disparities Remain Among African Americans, Latinos

Jaime Rosenberg

While rates of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) usage among people in the United States has significantly increased over the past few years, significant gaps exist among African Americans and Latinos, according to analyses from AIDSVu and the CDC.

In first ever data on PrEP users nationwide, ASDSVu created state-level maps representing key trends from 2012 to 2016. During the period, the number of PrEP users in the United States has increased by 880%, with an average 73% increase year over year, according to the analysis. In 2016, there were 77,120 PrEP users, compared to 8,768 in 2012. Of the PrEP users in 2016, 93% were men, who accounted for 81% of new HIV diagnoses in 2016. Five states accounted for nearly 50% of PrEP users in 2016: New York, California, Florida, Texas, and Illinois.

“PrEP is a revolution in HIV prevention and has the potential to dramatically reduce new HIV infections; however, significant disparities in the use of PrEP exist across the country,” said Patrick Sullivan, PhD, professor of epidemiology, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, and principal scientist for AIDSVu, in a statement.

While the country has seen a major uptake in PrEP users in recent years, a new CDC analysis suggests that just a small percentage of Americans who could benefit from the pill are prescribed it. There are also ethnic disparities among users; according to the CDC analysis, “While two-thirds of people who could potentially benefit from PrEP are African American or Latino, they account for the smallest percentage of prescriptions to date.”

In 2015, 44% (500,00) of those who could potentially benefit from PrEP in the United States were African American and 25% (300,000) of those who could potentially benefit were Latino, based on CDC guidelines; however, just 1% (7000) of the African American population were prescribed PrEP, and just 3% (7600) of the Latino population were prescribed PrEP.

While gaps are smaller among whites, they are still substantial, according to the analysis. Of approximately 300,000 white individuals who could have potentially benefitted from PrEP, only 42,000 prescriptions were filled.

PrEP gained FDA approval for HIV prevention in 2012, and when taken as instructed, can reduce the risk of sexually acquiring HIV by more than 90% and reduce the risk of HIV infection among people who inject drugs by more than 70%.
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