GLCCB to host forum on pre-exposure HIV treatment for at-risk populations

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The GLCCB at the Waxter Center, at 1000 Cathedral St.

Local medical professionals will gather with members of Baltimore's gay community later this month to discuss a new medical treatment that involves HIV-negative patients taking a daily pill to avoid becoming infected.

The April 28 forum, hosted by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, will cover the use of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, which "has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection among adult men and women at very high risk for HIV infection through sex or injecting drug use," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Despite that success, GLCCB leaders say the treatment isn't widely understood in Baltimore.

"The use and effects of PrEP still remain a mystery to many in our community," said Chris Adkins, a GLCCB board member, in a statement. "This month's town hall is designed to allow for an open dialogue between community members and health care professionals to educate, clarify, and demystify the use of this often misunderstood HIV prevention method."

According to the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2012 approved a specific PrEP drug combination for use among sexually-active adults at risk of becoming infected.

"For some individuals at high risk for HIV infection, PrEP may represent a much-needed additional prevention method, but it will not be right for everyone and is not intended to be used in isolation, but rather in combination with other methods to reduce the risk of getting HIV infection," the CDC says. "If it is delivered effectively and targeted to those at highest risk, PrEP may play a role in helping to reduce the significant continuing toll of new HIV infections in the United States."
The CDC says it is working with partners now "to ensure safe and effective PrEP use and begin to address key questions about acceptability, access, adherence, behavioral risks, and patient outcomes in community settings."
The GLCCB forum will feature Deborah Dunn, of Chase Brexton Health Services; Brian Palmer of Gilead Sciences; Dr. Renata Arrington-Sanders of Johns Hopkins Hospital; and Dr. Patrick Ryscavage, of the University of Maryland Medical Center.
The speakers will discuss "the risks and benefits of the medication, accessing health insurance and co-pay assistance programs needed to cover the costs, and ways to access medication in Baltimore," according to the GLCCB.
HIV testing will also be provided at the forum, which will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 28 in the Mason Lord Room at the Waxter Center, 1000 Cathedral Street.