#20DaysToStart: Enhancing women’s health, preventing HIV with a daily pill

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Project Inform and HIVE launch new PrEP videos for women in English and Spanish
Contact: Alan McCord, amccord@projectinform.org, 415-580-7307
Videos available: https://vimeo.com/album/4261484

NOVEMBER 29, 2016, SAN FRANCISCO, CA.  Today, HIVE and Project Inform launched two new educational videos to assist women to make informed choices around using the preventive sexual health strategy known as PrEP. PrEP stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, an HIV-negative strategy where an HIV-negative person takes a daily medication to significantly lower their risk of HIV infection.

This current form of PrEP, Truvada, was approved by the FDA in 2012 for heterosexual women and men, men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and others at risk for HIV as an additional method to prevent infection. Compared to other strategies which may rely upon negotiation among partners, PrEP radically shifts the HIV prevention conversation, putting control of HIV prevention in the hands of women — similar to taking a daily contraceptive pill.

“In consultation with many community partners who serve women at risk for HIV infection, there’s a clear opportunity to increase PrEP’s awareness among women, and particularly to highlight that its use differs slightly for preventing vaginal transmission of HIV” stated Alan McCord, Project Inform’s Director of Education. Project Inform is committed to contributing to the various national and local efforts around PrEP education for women, with the goal of further pushing the downward trends in new infections.”

Women make up nearly 20% of new infections with the great majority of those cases (87%) being attributed to heterosexual sex. Further, African American and Latina women continue to bear a greater burden of those new cases: 62% of these new cases are among African American women and 16% of new cases are among Latina women.

“Women are adept at balancing nuanced sexual and reproductive health choices, and they deserve educational resources that speak to their unique experiences and preferences,” stated HIVE Director Shannon Weber. “We juggle busy lives of working, caring for families, raising children, and nurturing romantic relationships. HIV can be a significant and often unknown element in that equation, especially in high incident areas of the country. PrEP offers women more control over their own HIV risk and their sexual health.”

McCord also remarked, “We’re using the #20DaysToStart hashtag in our social media to highlight that the use of PrEP differs in two key ways for women (and transgender men) in regards to the slower persistence and forgiveness of drug levels in vaginal tissue. These are important educational points to raise as they differ somewhat from PrEP use in gay men. First, it takes 20 days of lead-in time to reach maximum protective levels in vaginal tissue — compared to 7 lead-in days for rectal exposures. Second, it’s more critical that women and trans men take the pill every day and not miss doses.”

Various PrEP educational resources designed for women and their providers are increasing around the country. These two new videos contribute to that effort and can easily be viewed at projectinform.org/prep or vimeo.com/prepvideos. They can also easily be embedded into any web page with HTML code that’s found on the accompanying Communications Info Sheet. Questions, comments and recommendations can be forwarded to the contact information above.

For a full list of available resources on PrEP and other prevention options for women, go to www.hiveonline.org/prep4women.

Women, PrEP & sexual health: https://vimeo.com/prepvideos/women
Mujeres, PrEP y salud sexual: https://vimeo.com/prepvideos/mujeres
Transgender Women & Sexual Health: https://vimeo.com/prepvideos/transwomen

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HIVE (@HIVE_Online, hiveonline.org) provides preconception and prenatal care to women and couples affected by HIV. HIVE advances reproductive and sexual wellness for individuals, families and communities affected by HIV in San Francisco and beyond to ensure safe pregnancies, reproductive autonomy, access to state-of-the-art health care and enjoyable sex lives.

Project Inform (@ProjectInform, projectinform.org) fights the HIV and hepatitis C epidemics by assuring the development of effective treatments and a cure; supporting individuals to make informed choices about their health; advocating for quality, affordable health care; and promoting medical strategies that prevent new infections.