Chattanooga CARES is now the first community-based organization in the area to offer pre-exposure prophylaxis, commonly referred to as PrEP, in the fight to prevent the spread of HIV in local communities. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PrEP is a once a day pill taken to reduce HIV transmission among individuals at substantial risk. When someone is exposed to HIV through sex or injection drug use, PrEP works to keep the virus from establishing a permanent infection.
“We are excited to offer a service that is lacking in the community and is not well known by people who are at high risk of HIV transmission. Most people are unaware of what PrEP is and those who do know about it have difficulty acquiring the medication. Chattanooga CARES can fill the gaps by not only providing vital knowledge but also access to PrEP,” said William Adam, Director of Community Outreach for Chattanooga CARES.
According to the CDC, when taken consistently, PrEP can lower the risk of contracting HIV from sex by more than 90% and from injection drug use by more than 70%. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and when combined with condoms and other prevention methods can provide even greater protection than when used alone; however, PrEP is much less effective if not taken consistently. PrEP users must commit to taking the drug every day and seeing their health care provider for follow-up appointments every 3 months.
Furthermore, there are assistance programs and agencies that can aid those who may have difficulty affording the medication. These programs include services such as paying for co-pays, choosing the most effective insurance plan, and having the medication paid for by an outside medication assistance program. Free PrEP educational workshops will be held every Wednesday between November 16th 2016 and January 25th, 2017 at 5:30pm at Chattanooga CARES located on 1000 East Third Street, Chattanooga, TN 37403.
For more information about PrEP or how to set up an appointment with a provider, please contact Chattanooga CARES via email at PrEP@ChattanoogaCares.org or call Mario Forte, PrEP Navigator, at 423-322-4900.