HIV advocates applaud new Mecklenburg PrEP initiative, call for more action in 2018

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2017

Media Contacts:
Ryan Morrice, MeckPAC Board Member At-Large, 704-589-2199, rwmorrice@gmail.com
Lee Storrow, NC AIDS Action Network Executive Director, 919-914-0311, lee@ncaan.org

New PrEP pilot program will serve at least 320 uninsured residents

On Tuesday December 19th, the Mecklenburg County Commission approved the use of $233,000 in contingency funds to implement a PrEP pilot program that will assist uninsured individuals at high risk for contracting HIV. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a pill that, if taken once daily, can decrease the chance of contracting HIV by over 90%. The pilot program will contain funding for at least 320 uninsured individuals, budgeting $1,300 per individual annually, to pay for medical and lab costs associated with PrEP. The county plans to contract through local healthcare providers who already provide access to PrEP in order to make the drug available to the public. This program will also be coupled with a $15,000 education/marketing campaign to advertise PrEP services to at-risk individuals.

MeckPAC and the North Carolina AIDS Action Network applaud the county commission’s intentional movement towards supporting uninsured, at-risk county residents. We were also encouraged to hear commissioners reference the need to develop a full, comprehensive plan to end new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the county. We will hold them to their commitment to approve and implement a plan in 2018.

In a recent community planning partners meeting hosted by the Mecklenburg County Health Department, attendees identified 5 top priorities for addressing the HIV epidemic in Mecklenburg county. These included:

• Increasing access to PrEP for the uninsured/underinsured.
• Expanding or enhancing programs that help individuals access affordable HIV treatment.
• Increasing access to HIV screening in community setting and/or non-traditional hours.
• Implementing a media campaign regarding HIV prevention, testing, and treatment.
• Expanding patient navigation services for newly diagnosed individuals and individuals whom have fallen out of care.

We look forward to continuing this dialogue with the end goal of a comprehensive HIV prevention plan, containing these and other priorities, being implemented by the county commission in early 2018.

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MeckPAC works to mobilize the LGBT community and its many allies in Charlotte/Mecklenburg to vote and participate in city/county elections, to educate city/county elected officials about issues of importance to the LGBT community, and to hold city/county elected officials accountable for their votes on such issues.

The North Carolina AIDS Action Network improves the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS and affected communities through outreach and public education, policy advocacy and community-building to increase visibility and mutual support of people living with HIV/AIDS throughout the state of North Carolina.