Watson Coleman Urges Support for Research and Education on PrEP with New Resolution
Ahead of National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) has introduced a resolution supporting additional research and public education efforts on the usage of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for individuals at risk of contracting HIV.
H.Res. 960 calls on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to conduct a department-wide review of the outreach efforts of all HIV prevention programs at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to ensure their information is reaching all Americans, particularly communities of color, gay and bisexual men, and transgender people. The resolution also calls on the Secretary to conduct a study on barriers to accessing PrEP medications, as well as services such as HIV and other sexually-transmitted infection screening among these high-risk populations in order to identify solutions.
“We have the knowledge and tools to prevent new HIV infections, but that information is not reaching many of the people who need it most,” said Watson Coleman. “African Americans and Latinos make up a disproportionate and frankly alarming amount of new HIV diagnoses. We need to understand whether information about screening proven steps like PrEP medications, are reaching the people who need it most.”
Among the more than 1.1 million Americans living with HIV there are vast disparities in the communities most affected. African Americans represent 14% of the US population but account for 44% of HIV diagnoses, while Latinos represent 18% of the US population and 25% of HIV diagnoses. PrEP, which refers to any drug that reduces the risk of contracting HIV, is currently prescribed as a daily, oral pill to individuals who do not have HIV and are at substantial risk of contracting the virus. It has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV by up to 99 percent. Focused efforts to increase awareness of PrEP in these communities could help reduce new HIV diagnoses.
To view the text of the resolution, click here.