The City of St. Louis Department of Health announced its second annual PrEP Awareness Week, which takes place October 22-28, 2023. This is a time for all St. Louisans to learn about and find access to PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) treatment, a medication plan that can be taken ahead of exposure to HIV and which can reduce its transmission through sex by 99%.
The use of PrEP is crucial to ending the HIV epidemic in Missouri, particularly among populations most deeply affected: Black and Hispanic youth, women of color and LGBTQ+ communities.
PrEP was first approved by the FDA in 2012, and over the last ten years, medical innovation has improved its safety and effectiveness. In August 2023, new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force endorsed two additional medications approved for PrEP: an oral medication and a long-acting injectable. These additional options could help narrow existing disparities and enhance access, particularly in the most vulnerable populations.
The U.S. has seen increased use, but PrEP still isn’t reaching everyone who may benefit from it; the disparity in access to prescriptions and treatment remains. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 1.2 million people in the U.S. would benefit from PrEP, though less than 25 percent of this population were taking it in 2020, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
The City of St. Louis Department of Health’s 2023 PrEP Awareness Week campaign focuses on using social media to encourage the sharing of information about PrEP and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) benefits and access.
The PrEP Toolkit includes images, videos, training webinars and other resources for the public, providers and community partners to use and share on their social platforms throughout the week. You can find our 2023 PrEP Toolkit by following this link: bit.ly/PrEPWeekSTL2023.
The City of Saint Louis Department of Health continues to build partnerships with local organizations to support their work, expand quality services to our community, and ensure that people living with HIV have access to medical and other supportive services. St. Louis non-profit organizations, specialized medical providers, and civic agencies are committed to demolishing barriers to PrEP and PEP, linkage to care, medical services, case management and other resources vital to the quality of life for our community. We'll amplify our partners throughout PrEP Awareness Week and every other week of the year by sharing their messages, services, locations and contact information.
Our collective work is vital to ending the HIV epidemic. In observance of this year's Prep Awareness Week, we invite you to participate in regional events and celebrations across the city.