Story at a glance
- New data from AIDSvu, a HIV mapping project from Emory University, shows that Black and Hispanic Americans only make up 14 and 17 percent, respectively, of PrEP users.
- Meanwhile, Black Americans and Latinos accounted for 42 percent and 27 percent, respectively, of new HIV diagnoses in 2021.
- White Americans accounted for 26 percent of new HIV diagnoses last year but 65 percent of PrEP use.
Black and Latino people make up less than 20 percent of all pre-exposure prophylaxis users to guard themselves against HIV, new data shows.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a kind of oral prescription medication that can drastically lower the chances of a person contracting HIV through sex or injectable drug use.
Black and Latino people accounted for 42 percent and 27 percent of new HIV diagnoses last year, respectively, according to data from AIDSvu, a HIV and AIDS mapping project from Emory University and Gilead Sciences Inc.
But Black Americans and Latinos only made up 14 percent and 17 percent of PrEP users.
Meanwhile, white Americans, who represented 26 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2021, accounted for 65 percent of PrEP users, data show.
There are multiple reasons behind the disparity in PrEP use, according to Carl Schmid, the executive director of the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, but lack of community outreach and issues with having the drugs fully covered by all insurances are part of the problem.
Data from AIDSvu also shows that PrEP use was lower in states that did not expand Medicaid access prior to 2021. In those states, which are mostly concentrated in the southern United States, PrEP use was about 1.5 times lower than in states where Medicaid was expanded.
Data also show that younger people have a greater unmet need for PrEP than older Americans. According to AIDSvu, people between the ages of 13 and 24 years old had the greatest unmet need for the medication making up only 13 percent of PrEP users but 20 percent of new HIV diagnoses.
While data shows that the overall number of PrEP users grew by 100,000 from 2019 to 2021, that rate of growth was much lower than in prior years.
More than 700,000 people have died of HIV since the virus was first reported in the United States in 1981, and about 1.2 million people are currently living with the disease, according to the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S initiative. About 13 percent of those living with the virus do not know they have been infected.
While new HIV cases have steadily declined over the last decade, thousands of people are still diagnosed with the illness every year.
In 2019 alone, more than 36,000 people received an HIV diagnosis in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
President Biden has pledged to work toward ending the HIV epidemic and proposed increasing federal funding towards existing programs by $377 million and creating a 10-year $9.8 billion national PrEP delivery program.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA