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CDC sets new guidance on HIV prevention, encourages doctors to discuss sexual health with patients

CDC data shows in 2020 only a quarter of the people who could benefit from PrEP were taking it.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its guidelines to encourage doctors to talk to all patients about sexual health. The hope is that more people will be introduced to drugs that can help prevent HIV.

"It's changing the game when it comes to preventing HIV," Sally Bowen a nurse practitioner at the Colorado Health Network said. The organization provides services for people who are living with or are at risk of getting HIV. 

"Our goal as an organization is to expand statewide and reach out to the communities of Colorado and reach out to those people that might not have this option and PrEP services available to them," Bowen explained. "PrEP is allowing us to take control over the situation and preventing HIV from spreading throughout our nation." 

PrEP is a preventative HIV medication. The CDC recommends it for people who have a partner with HIV, don't regularly use protection, or have been diagnosed with an STI in the last 6 months. 

The new guidance stresses that doctors should talk to all sexually active people about PrEP and to prescribe to anyone that asks for it. 

CDC data shows in 2020 only a quarter of the people who could benefit from the treatment were taking it. 

"It's a solid move by the CDC," Bowen said as she reacted to the news. "It's a responsibility on our part as providers to have this discussion and become comfortable with this discussion with our patients." 

"I have a lot of respect for patients that are taking PrEP and they're not only doing themselves a favor but they're doing the community a favor in preventing the spread of HIV," she added.

According to NBC News, this year the federal government announced that almost all health insurers must cover PrEP with no cost sharing for the drug itself, clinical visits or lab tests.

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