With Monday being National HIV Testing Day, North End Waterfront Health (NEW Health) announced it has launched a new and expanded HIV Prevention Program thanks to a new grant.
NEW Health was recently awarded a grant to fund and promote PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) to prevent HIV transmission and is actively seeking and accepting new patients who qualify.
The new program will include PrEP treatment and other services at both its Charlestown and North End sites.
“Ending the HIV Epidemic in the US (EHE) is a federal initiative from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that is allowing NEW Health to expand the number of patients who need HIV prevention in its HRSA-funded health centers,” said Mary Zanor on behalf of NEW Health. “Anyone who is interested is eligible to join and can do so by calling NEW Health to schedule an appointment.”
A key component of the new program is PrEP, a once-a-day pill given to HIV negative individuals which can prevent HIV infection when taken as prescribed.
PrEP is one of a number of HIV prevention strategies for people who are HIV negative but who also have a higher risk of acquiring HIV, including sexually active adults at increased risk of HIV, people who engage in injection drug use, and serodiscordant sexually active couples.
According to studies PrEP can reduce HIV transmission through sex by 99 percent and through sharing of needles by 74 percent. PrEP is recommended for those whose partner has HIV, individuals that don’t always use condoms during sex, people who have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease in the last six months, and for those who share needles to inject drugs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), roughly one in 10 new HIV diagnoses occur among people who inject drugs. Drug use also increased greatly during the COVID-19 pandemic; according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), around 275 million people used drugs worldwide between 2020 to 2021, a 22 percent increase from 2010.
NEW Health’s new HIV Prevention Program also includes HIV Testing, Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), outreach, education, and counseling services. Outreach includes the distribution of videos on what PrEP is and the basics of HIV testing.
Zanor said Medication Payment Assistance is also available and more information can be found at https://accesshealthma.org/prevention/prepdap/. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 857-238-1100 (Charlestown) or 617-643-8000 (North End.).
For more information on NEW Health and its services in both the Charlestown and the North End and visit www.newhealthcenter.org.