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U.S. officials recommend use of PrEP pills to stop spread of HIV

By
Tauren Dyson
U.S. officials are recommending people take PrEP pills, shown here, to help stop the spread of HIV. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/NIAID
U.S. officials are recommending people take PrEP pills, shown here, to help stop the spread of HIV. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/NIAID

Nov. 20 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials have recommended daily use of pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, pills to curb the spread of HIV.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced Tuesday that regular use of PrEP can reduce the chances of contracting HIV by 90 percent. This announcement comes four years after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called on doctors to recommend daily use of the drug to patients.

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"The evidence is clear: when taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at preventing HIV," Dr. Seth Landefeld, a task force member, said in a statement.

The task force also said doctors should test all patients 15 to 65 for HIV, which it first endorsed in 2013.

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To date, more than 1.2 million in the U.S. are living with HIV, about 15 percent of whom don't know they are carrying the virus.

"About 40,000 people are diagnosed with HIV each year," John Epling, task force member said. "People deserve to know their HIV status so, if needed, they can start treatment early and live long, healthy lives."

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While overall rates of HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, have fallen, cases among people ages 25 to 29 continue to rise.

The task force recommends PrEP for: men and women who have sex with partners who are HIV-positive, who have recently contracted a sexually transmitted virus or who use injectable drugs and share needles and who don't regularly use condoms during sex.

People who have HIV should not take PrEP, and the drug does not prevent the spread of other STIs.

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