A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), presented at the 2018 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI), suggests that only a small percentage of Americans who could potentially benefit from pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a daily pill for HIV prevention, have been prescribed it. In the first detailed analysis by race and by risk group, CDC researchers found while two-thirds of those who could potentially benefit from PrEP are African-American or Latino, these groups account for the smallest percentage of prescriptions to date.
In 2015, there were approximately 1.1 million Americans who could potentially benefit from PrEP according to CDC guidelines, including:
- 500,000 African Americans
- 300,000 Latinos
- 300,000 whites
However, an examination of available data on PrEP prescriptions from a national database of prescriptions filled by commercial pharmacies in the United States finds that only 7,000 prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies or mail order services for African-Americans and only 7,600 for Latinos during a similar time period (September 2015 — August 2016). While racial and ethnic data were not available for one-third of the prescription data, the analysis found a substantial unmet prevention need.
The gap between how many people could potentially benefit from PrEP and how many received it was smaller among whites, yet still considerable. Of approximately 300,000 whites who could potentially have benefited from PrEP, only 42,000 prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies or mail order services.