PrEP pill gained traction for white gay men — why not others?

Vulnerable groups are less likely to adopt daily HIV preexposure prophylaxis pill than white gay and bisexual men, NBC News reported March 18.

Inequities continue to persist in groups who are most vulnerable to the virus, including for Black and Latino gay and bisexual men, who account for 26 percent and 23 percent of new cases, respectively, and "of all major intersectional demographics, these groups contract HIV at the highest rates, and transmissions among them have flat lined or barely declined in recent years," according to NBC. 

This is even after millions have been spent on campaigning for increased usage of the drug among these groups. Studies have found that the daily regimen of taking the PrEP pill was found to have lower adherence among these groups. Now, some think an injectable version of PrEP could be more widely used. 

When taken regularly, the CDC reports that the PrEP pill is 99 percent effective in preventing the transmission of HIV. However, less is known about PrEP shots, including "how long it takes for PrEP shots to reach maximum protection during sex." The shots have also occasionally resulted in cases of breakthrough infections at a much higher rate than with the pills. 

Still, adhering to appointments to get the shots throughout the year rather than taking a daily pill may be more convenient for some. In a study, Apretude, the maker of an injectable PrEP dosage, had six out of a 2,282-person trial contract HIV while getting their shots on a regular schedule, NBC reports. 

Overall though, experts believe that innovating more convenient, effective methods of delivery for both patients and providers will allow PrEP to continue to reduce HIV transmission for all groups, according to NBC.

Ultimately, while there is no perfect solution for closing inequity gaps among groups, "HIV prevention experts report excitement about the PrEP pipeline and expectations that in the coming decade, more convenient and longer-acting forms will be approved," according to NBC.

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