HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Despite major advances in education and medication, around 38,000 Americans get infected with HIV every year, according to HIV.gov.
About one million more are at risk of contracting the virus, so the government just launched a new program designed to help stop the spread.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services unveiled “Ready, Set, PrEP.” It makes pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medications free for people who don’t have prescription drug insurance.
The goal is to reduce the rate of new infections by 75 percent in five years – and by 90 percent in 10 years.
That’s great news for people at risk who live in Tampa Bay. Hillsborough County is one of 57 areas across the country being directly targeted by the program.
"Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV, including individuals in Hillsborough County, will now be able to protect themselves and their communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Doctors say PrEP is a highly-effective drug.
"It is a critical tool for ending the HIV epidemic, but to make an impact it has to be available for people who need it most. Ready, Set, PrEP will increase access to this effective and preventive drug for people at risk," said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D.
To receive the medication for free, a person must be HIV negative, have a prescription for PrEP and not have prescription drug coverage. There may be costs for clinic visits and lab tests, depending on income level.
You can find more information here or by calling 855-447-8410.
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