PrEP availability expands in Southern Illinois

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Truvada pills

CARBONDALE — Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will become more available in Southern Illinois thanks to a coalition of groups. 

The Southern Illinoisan reported on Wednesday that the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and the Southern Seven Health Department are working together to expand the availibility of Truvada, which has been found to largely prevent transmission of HIV. in the state’s southernmost counties.

From The Southern Illinoisan:

Southern Seven’s Cairo Clinic began offering access to HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, services for the first time on Wednesday to anyone living within the department’s service area counties of Alexander, Hardin, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski and Union.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada for HIV prevention in 2012, but “this medication has seen a slow uptake in rural communities,” the health department said in a news release.

“A lot of the folks that live in this area do not have access to medical treatment, especially when it comes to HIV prevention and treatment. This is how we can reach more people,” Shawnna Rhine, the health department’s public relations coordinator told The Southern.

The new PrEP services are made possible by a $50,000 grant to the SIU School of Medicine’s Department of Population, Science and Policy awarded by the Telligen Community Initiative, a national nonprofit that funds research and innovative programs to improve community health, social welfare and educational attainment.

Southern Seven’s efforts to increase the availability of PrEP services expand upon those that the Jackson County Health Department helped pioneer in this region beginning two years ago. Paula Clark, director of HIV services at the Jackson County Health Department, said that her agency serves about 60 patients at any given time on Truvada. As the state’s designated lead agency for Southern Illinois HIV Care Connect, Jackson County offers HIV treatment and prevention services, including PrEP, to anyone who lives between Mount Vernon and Cairo. 

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