September 8, 2011
San Francisco public health officials and the National Institutes of Health are very close to inking a deal that would make the city the first in the nation to pass out pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to gay and bisexual men. This joint program, aimed to debut in early 2012, would allow up to 300 "high risk" MSM to enroll in the study. From there, the City Clinic would oversee the project, while Magnet, the gay men's health center, would help recruit the study's participants.
"We are anticipating we will be the first municipality to implement a PrEP demonstration project and things are moving forward toward that goal," Dr. Grant Colfax, the city's director of HIV prevention, told the Bay Area Reporter this week. "We are hoping the demo project would be implemented in the first quarter of 2012."
The exact funding amount for the National Institutes of Health Implementation Science Study is still being determined. And San Francisco is expected to partner with counterparts in Miami on the study to see if gay men want to use PrEP, and if so, how to safely administer the medical prevention technique.
"We don't know if people want it," said Colfax.
Despite past studies that have shown that PrEP has decreased HIV risk among gay men, not everyone is on board with it. Colfax told the Bay Area Reporter, "Certainly, there are a lot of questions about it. I think the real question is once it is on the ground, and we have a program actually offering PrEP, what is the experience of the community for the demand? What is the level of interest in the gay community in using PrEP to prevent HIV?"
Kellee Terrell is the former news editor for TheBody.com and TheBodyPRO.com.
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