The week attempted to increase public awareness of PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a daily pill that people who are HIV-negative take to reduce their risk of contracting the disease.
Borough President Eric Adams and representatives from Amida Care, who provide PrEP, say the drug has proven to be 99 percent effective in prevention.
“We took on this conversation to let people know that HIV and AIDS is not a death sentence, as long as you take the proper precautions,” said Adams,
PrEP is covered through Medicaid, and Amida Care provides PrEP to those eligible without cost. Treatment costs about $1,000 a month.
“People will likely need access to PrEP for anywhere between six months to five years, and we're willing to pay for the cost of that medication and help people to stay HIV negative,” CEO Doug Wirth said. “Increasing access to PrEP is one of our greatest weapons in winning the war against HIV.”
PrEP user Octavia Wheeler spoke of the struggle to find the drug and use it daily, but called it “literally a life-saving drug.”
“Because of PrEP, I did not have to worry about a positive diagnosis,” she said.
In 2017, Brooklyn saw over 600 new HIV diagnoses, the only borough that saw an increase. Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant were among the hardest hit.
“There's much more we need to do to make sure that every Brooklynite knows about PrEP,” Wirth said.