Get tested and know your status.
By Timothy Redd
I firmly believe in being aware of issues that impact our city and sharing vital information that can really help someone. This week I want to tell you about PrEP. PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a medicine called Truvada, a pill taken once daily that will protect you protect you from getting HIV if you have unprotected sex or share needles with someone who is HIV-positive. It is encouraged by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) if you are at high risk for contracting HIV, PrEP should be in your prevention tool box.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, it’s found in semen, vaginal, rectal fluids, and breast milk. HIV over time damages the body’s immune system which eventually leads to the body not being able to fight off diseases. There is no cure for HIV but today treatments can help people stay healthy.
Why am I talking about HIV and PrEP you may ask? It’s because Memphis is a high-risk city for new HIV infection cases. According to the latest statistics provided by AIDSVu, presented by the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University (CFAR) and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc:
PrevalenceNumber of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013: 6,569
- 69% of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013 were men, and
- 31% were women.
- 82% of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013 were black,
- 2% Hispanic or Latino, and
- 13% white.
New DiagnosesNumber of new HIV diagnoses in 2014: 281
- 73% of people newly diagnosed with HIV between 2010 and 2014 were men, and
- 27% were women.
- 83% of people newly diagnosed with HIV between 2010 and 2014 were black,
- 3% Hispanic or Latino, and
- 9% white.
Number of deaths of people with diagnosed HIV in 2013: 132
Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Donna Blackard, PreP Coordinator with Project Pride about the work she is doing in our community. Project Pride is a part of the Le Bonheur HIV Network, a grant program funded by the CDC. Project Pride focuses on the gay males and trans-of-color community between the ages of 13- 24 and links clients to PrEP.
Project Pride is a two component program that does individual and event free HIV testing and provides HIV prevention and PrEP education. Navigators guide clients through the process of testing, patient assistance programs, and lab work necessary to be prescribed. PrEP is available at absolutely at no cost to you whether you have insurance or not.
“Memphis ranks number 6 in the nation for newly acquired HIV,” said Donna Blackard. “People are still dying. I’ve lost a lot of good friends and I’m eager to see that Memphis is not on the list.”
If you would like to know more please contact Donna Blackard at 901-287-4764.
I would like to encourage you to get tested and know your status. To learn more about Memphis HIV statistics check out https://aidsvu.org/local-statistics/ and to learn more about HIV and ways to protect yourself https://www.greaterthan.org.