Meck. Health Director Asks County Commission To Fund HIV Pilot Project

Dec 19, 2017

Cabarrus Health Alliance has been providing PrEP to patients for more than a year.
Credit Alex Olgin / WFAE

UPDATED 12:18 p.m. 12/20/2017

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted to fund a pilot project to help prevent the spread of HIV. The county has an infection rate more than double the national average. Tuesday night, the county health director will propose spending $248,000 to get medicines that provide significant protection to those most at risk.

The proposal is for a preventive medication regimen known as pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. The Centers for Disease Control recommends it for people who are at a higher risk of getting HIV. According to the CDC, gay and bisexual men account for 70 percent of new infections. In Mecklenburg County, 70 percent of new diagnoses in 2016 were among African Americans. PrEP is also recommended for people who have a partner with HIV.

The drug called Truvada, which a patient would take every day has been shown to lower the chances of contracting the virus through unprotected sex by more than 90 percent and among those who share needles to inject drugs by 70 percent.

Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris is asking the commission to spend $248,000 on this two-year pilot project to help get the medicines to at least 320 uninsured people in the county. The plan is to work with four doctors who already prescribe PrEP to patients. The county will measure the success of the pilot by keeping track of how many people who get the medicine keep from contracting HIV.