The Florida Department of Health will begin offering a drug next year to help prevent the spread of HIV.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 approved Truvada as a pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, for HIV in 2012. When used in combination with condoms, the drug is up to 92 percent effective at preventing HIV in high-risk groups. If someone is exposed to the virus, it can help keep HIV from taking hold.
Orange County will offer Prep at free or reduced costs starting in the second quarter of 2018. Kent Donahue with the Orange County Health Department said the goal is to offer free or low-cost PrEP at all county health departments by the end of 2018.
“Ensuring that PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is available to those at high risk for HIV infection, regardless of ability to pay, is one of the four key components of the departments initiative to eliminate HIV transmission,” Donahue said.
Orange County had 686 new cases of HIV in 2016, ranking the county third in the state for newly diagnosed cases, behind Miami Dade and Broward County.
Things that put people at high-risk for contracting HIV include sex work, going to prison, or being in a mixed-status couples, where one partner has HIV and the other doesn’t. In 2016, Florida had the third highest rate of new HIV infections in the U.S.