In the fight to end HIV transmissions in North Carolina, PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) are paramount in the biomedical prevention of HIV. PrEP is a once-daily pill that reduces the chance of HIV acquisition to effectively zero (if taken as prescribed) and PEP an emergency 28-day regimen that can be used within 72-hours of possible exposure to HIV. Although these life-saving prevention tools have been around for years, uptake and distribution has been extremely slow. Too many people are unaware that either PEP or PrEP exist, and for many of those who do know about these drugs, significant barriers still exist around attaining these tools, both socially and financially.
Luckily, both PrEP and PEP are covered by Medicaid. The Medicaid program is essential in providing comprehensive care for folks with low incomes throughout the United States and key in reducing the number of new HIV cases in North Carolina. We have made incredible advancements in the fight toward ending HIV, in both the realms of treatment and prevention, but there is still so much work to do in ensuring that there is equitable access and effective utilization for all members of our community. PrEP and PEP are vital components of our prevention toolbelt in stopping the spread of HIV and we simply cannot have equitable access to these life-saving tools without a robust and strongly-funded Medicaid program.
By: Matt Martin
Grassroots Advocacy Manager, North Carolina AIDS Action Network