Utah county adds PrEP to fight HIV

A daily pill to protect against HIV infection is now available at the Salt Lake County Health Department STD Clinic.

HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) was added in January to protect the clinic’s clients who are sexually active, particularly those with multiple partners, and for those who inject drugs, said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, SLCoHD medical director.

 

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“PrEP is an additional tool available to help us prevent the spread of HIV,” Vitek said. “It, along with safer sex practices like consistent condom use, can be an important component of a personalized plan to prevent the transmission of HIV and remain sexually healthy.”

PrEP is a daily pill taken by people who do not have HIV to protect against HIV infection. PrEP is only available by prescription.

The CDC says daily PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by more than 70 percent when used consistently, according to the SLCoHD.

At the SLCoHD Clinic, the office visits and labwork required while taking PrEP will cost patients a minimum of $835 a year. The cost does not include the prescription cost of the drug itself, which may be among the drugs covered by health insurance plans’ brand name drug coverage.

PrEP is available under two brand names: Truvada and Descovy. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada as PrEP treatment for both men and women. Descovy was approved in 2019 for use by men only.

STD Clinic staff can refer patients to a financial assistant program to help them cover the cost of the drug.