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California: New East Bay Program Gives HIV Prevention Pill to High-Risk Youths

July 15, 2013

A new program will provide the drug Truvada to more than 100 East Bay youth along with safe-sex counseling and other sexual health services to prevent HIV transmission. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada to help prevent HIV in high-risk healthy individuals. George Lemp, director of the University of California Office of the President's HIV/AIDS Research Program, cited the frustration with the inability to reduce the number of new infections as the driving force behind the more aggressive method of prevention. The University of California program will award $18 million in grants throughout four years to teams in Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego to test this new approach of distributing Truvada to high-risk groups. The Bay Area program will be supervised by the Downtown Youth Clinic, which is part of the East Bay AIDS Center at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Oakland.

The program will target 15-29-year-old gay men in cities along the Bay from Richmond through Berkeley, Oakland, and to Fremont. The program will include regular monitoring of participants for adverse reactions to the drug, organizing peer discussion groups, stressing the importance of safe sex, and delivering a variety of sexual health services to young men who often lack healthcare. The drug, which sells wholesale for approximately $46 per daily pill -- $1,300 a month -- will be free for participants. Drug manufacturer Gilead is donating approximately $20 million worth of the medication to programs in the Bay Area and Southern California. According to Project Director Ifeoma Udoh, program leaders plan to use social media to contact youth and will reach out at schools, parties, and other places where young people congregate.

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Excerpted from:
San Jose Mercury News
07.15.2013; Sandy Kleffman

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