SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) – The first injectable drug PrEP to reduce the risk of contracting HIV has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
However, local experts say some rural communities in the Ozarks may not be ready to offer it. Ozarks AIDS ProjectExecutive Director Lynne Meyerkord said that 1.2 million people across the country are eligible for PrEP, only a quarter have actually obtained the prescription.
“I think a lot of people have no idea that there is a real medicine that can prevent HIV infection,” Meyerkord says.
Meyerkord says it’s not just patients who may be misinformed about PrEP.
“Especially in small towns and rural areas, many doctors and healthcare providers are unaware that there is a drug that can prevent HIV infection,” says Meyerkord.
Meyerkord says this has led to people in rural communities in Springfield gaining access to the drug in the past.
“We serve about 200 people specifically for PrEP and a lot of these people don’t want to get the drug from their own doctor because they then have to tell their doctor that they might be at risk for HIV and are in pain. comfortable doing it, ”Meyerkord says.
Robin Rees’ husband was diagnosed with HIV 24 years ago after a blood transfusion. During this time, the drug was not yet available. Looking back, Rees thinks that if it had been offered, it might have given him more options.
“By conceiving more children,” says Rees. “I mean there are so many elements in the marital relationship that are affected. PrEP, especially early in her diagnosis, would have had a huge impact on us with a lot of freedoms that we would have had, but we didn’t feel like that.
The new injectable PrEP can be a huge step in preventing people from getting HIV. The injection would first be given as two initiation injections given one month apart and then every two months thereafter. On the other hand, the pill should be taken every day.
Meyerkord says the injectable can be difficult to access.
“The pharmaceutical company only allows certain specialty pharmacies to distribute it and we don’t work with those pharmacies,” Meyerkord said. “It’s not as easy as getting the script from your doctor, having it sent out on the street and getting your injection, or having it given to you by the pharmacist because none of these specialty pharmacies is not in our area. “
It is important that people learn about PrEP. Rees says if you don’t feel comfortable going to your doctor, ask APO to refer you to a doctor who is familiar with HIV and medications.
“To have healthcare workers who are compassionate, attentive and who will provide advice that will offer the best possible options to keep as many people safe and healthy as possible,” Rees said.
APO hopes to obtain the new injectable PrEP in the near future. Meyerkord says that if need be, APO will buy the drug, inject it, and bill it right from the office. In doing so, it will provide access to more of the people in need that APO serves.
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