New alarming public opinion survey data released on August 9, 2018 shows that only a minuscule number of North Carolinians have heard of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP is a daily pill that has been shown to prevent HIV transmission when taken consistently. In the statewide survey, 9% of respondents had heard of PrEP, and 59% had not. 32% answered that they were not sure.
“Though we knew not enough people were aware of PrEP, the data is quite striking and reinforces that our public health response must rapidly hasten if we’re serious about stopping the spread of HIV,” said Lee Storrow, executive director of the NC AIDS Action Network. “We have a pill that will prevent HIV transmission, a medical breakthrough only dreamed about just a decade ago. It’s inexcusable that so few people even know it exists. We must do more to educate the public, and make sure those in need have access to the medication.”
Once those surveyed were informed about PrEP, a majority of both Republicans and Democrats supported efforts in local health departments to fund programs to provide PrEP to low-income individuals who might not be able to access it otherwise.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do to make sure residents of our state know that we can prevent HIV with a once a day pill. Several of our health departments across the state have started programs to make sure residents can access PrEP, and I hope that accelerates in the future,” says Lynette Tolson, executive director of the NC Association of Local Health Directors.
The survey was performed by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the NC AIDS Action Network on July 30th and 31st, 2018 and surveyed 409 North Carolinians. The NC AIDS Action Network and Latino Commission on AIDS are hosting a webinar on August 27th at noon to discuss the survey data and highlight current efforts in local health departments to increase PrEP access. Those interested in the webinar can register here.