The county of San Diego Wednesday launched an HIV awareness program designed to reduce infections and promote a pill that could prevent people from getting the disease.
The “PrEP San Diego” campaign will make use of billboards, bus shelters and digital advertising over the next few months.
County officials want to encourage San Diegans at risk of contracting HIV to consider PrEP, or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, as a method of HIV prevention.
PrEP is an FDA-approved antiretroviral that involves taking a once-daily pill known as Truvada that is effective in preventing HIV infection, according to county health officials.
The ads will direct people to a website — PrepSanDiego.com — to learn more about Truvada and where to get it in San Diego County.
“PrEP has the potential to significantly reduce new HIV infections,” said Patrick Loose, chief of the HIV, Sexually Transmitted Disease, and Hepatitis branch of the county Health and Human Services Agency. “It is not a vaccine, but it can greatly reduce a person’s chances of getting HIV if they are exposed to it.”
Organizers of the campaign estimate around 18,700 people are living with HIV in San Diego County.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, daily use of PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV via sex by more than 90 percent. The risk of getting HIV from sex can be even lower when combined with condoms and other prevention methods.
Among people who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent, the CDC said.
The pill can cause some nausea, but no major side effects have been noted, according to the CDC.
More information is available on the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/prep.html.
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