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August 2011

HIV/AIDS advocates call on federal officials to take action on new prevention tool

August 17, 2011 -- A coalition of seven HIV/AIDS organizations are calling on federal health officials to increase support for a possible new prevention method called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. At a recent HIV prevention meeting hosted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coalition called on officials from the Department of Health and Human Services to address the shortage of funding and coordination for PrEP.

PrEP involves HIV-negative people taking antiretroviral drugs before exposure to the virus to prevent infection. Three clinical trials have demonstrated that when used consistently, PrEP is both safe and effective at preventing HIV infection. However, it is unknown if and how results apply outside of clinical trials. Advocates are urging the US Government to move quickly to fund and coordinate demonstration projects to evaluate PrEP in the wider population. “We are at a pivotal moment in HIV prevention, and what happens next hinges on a swift, coordinated effort to understand how PrEP can be used effectively by people at highest risk for infection,” said Judy Auerbach, vice president of research and evaluation at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “If we do too little, or the demonstration projects aren’t properly designed, there’s a real danger that we could lose the promise of one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in HIV prevention.”

In related news, the Office of National AIDS Policy this fall will convene a series of regional dialogues across the country to focus attention on critical issues related to implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy. The dialogues will serve as a forum for federal and state agency representatives, researchers, clinicians, and the community—as well as leaders from the business, foundation, faith, and media sectors—to discuss lessons learned, share expertise, and identify new ways of collaborating. One of the dialogues will focus on incorporating prevention and care research into HIV programs. See the links below for more information.

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