LOS ANGELES—On Tuesday, June 9, Los Angeles County Supervisors voted to construct a plan to distribute a HIV prevention pill to at risk residents.
The motion, passing (4-1) was introduced by Sheila Kuehl. It allots public health officials 30 days to create a plan that makes the HIV prevention pill, PrEP or Truvada, easily accessible for high risk residents. The motion includes making the medicine available for uninsured residents, and county jails.
The drug is used for HIV positive patients and as a preventative method. The pill is taken daily and when used with other preventative procedures, can reduce the risk of HIV and help keep the disease under control in those already exposed. When taken as prescribed, the New York Times reports that Truvada can reduce the risk of HIV by up to 92 percent. That same study found that many people do not take the drug regularly, dropping the effectiveness down to only 44 percent.
According to officials, around 60,000 people in the Los Angeles County have HIV already. Over 1,000 more locals are infected with the disease each year. It was reported that most of the new infections will pertain to minorities, including low-income, gay, bi-sexual, and colored demographics. It is estimated that about 1,000 people are on PrEP right now. Between 6,000-8,000 people may qualify for the upcoming program.
While the county backs the program, there is opposition to the motion. The biggest resistance comes from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation president, Michael Weinstein. Weinstein fears the prevention program will actually lead to more incidences of infection. He believes people will not take the drug regularly, lowering its effectiveness. If people skip doses of the drug and abstain from other preventive methods, the number of infections could increase.