Over 500,000 non-Hispanic African Americans are estimated to benefit from a once-daily PrEP pill for HIV prevention. In 2015, only 1% had been prescribed the HIV prophylactic drug.
PrEP has a race problem.
Service providers, social workers, physicians, case managers, patient navigators, HIV testers, medical assistants, researchers, and others who work intimately in HIV prevention have told this story for five or six years now:
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) prescriptions and uptake in racial and ethnic minority populations are lagging greatly in comparison to white populations, which are in less relative need.
Of the near 300,000 non-Hispanic whites who are estimated to benefit from PrEP, almost 14% have been prescribed the drug; many of these individuals are cisgender gay men. Comparatively, less than 2% of African Americans and Latinx individuals in need of HIV prevention are on PrEP. These new reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) speak to a grim reality at the intersection of HIV prevention and race.
PrEP, Race and Being LGBTQ+
The story of HIV/AIDS is deeply personal for those who are living with or who have lost friends, family members and loved ones to the disease. It’s also shaped by the tireless work of service providers, advocates and researchers laboring to end the HIV epidemic. With so many of these individuals identifying as LGBTQ+, the scars and triumphs of HIV/AIDS are part of a collective LGBTQ+ identity. And it is as important to recognize the intersection of race and what being non-white means for a person’s risk of HIV in this country.
The LGBTQ+ community is undoubtedly the strongest collective advocate in the march to end HIV/AIDS, both historically and at-present. And so much of the work that got us here bears the names of LGBTQ+ people of color.
The LGBTQ+ community is uniquely and powerfully positioned to name and dismantle racism in a new and growing era of HIV/AIDS: prevention. With PrEP, there is room for our voice to grow louder.
Read more about the CDC’s report on PrEP, race and HIV prevention, including proposed solutions and policy changes, here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/newsroom/2018/croi-2018.html
Additional reports from NYC in 2017 can be found here, highlighting similar inequities: http://www.thebodypro.com/content/80497/prep-prescriptions-rise-sharply-but-unequally-in-n.html?ic=intxt