This month, the “Take Charge of Your Health Today” page focuses on HIV and PrEP. The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh’s Erricka Hager, health advocate, and Esther L. Bush, president and CEO, spoke about this topic.

EH: Good morning, Ms. Bush. Our “Take Charge” readers may know that HIV and AIDS are previous topics that we have learned about. However, PrEP information may be new. I’m curious to hear your thoughts about this month’s topic. Have you ever heard of PrEP?

EB: That’s a great question, Erricka. Unfortunately, my knowledge about PrEP is limited. I do understand how important this daily pill is in the fight against HIV, and I’m glad we’re taking the time to discuss this today. I’m saddened every time I hear that close to half of all new HIV cases in the United States are among African Americans.

EH: I absolutely agree, Ms. Bush. The number of HIV-infected African Americans is staggering. It tells me that we need to continue working hard to raise awareness about the disease and to constantly encourage HIV testing and promote prevention. It’s important to educate the communities we serve about the improvements to HIV medication. These breakthroughs are helping people who are HIV-positive lead long lives. In fact, I’ve heard doctors speak of HIV as a chronic disease, similar to how we think about long-term treatment of diabetes and heart disease. Preventing new infections in the first place is essential. Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is a daily pill that is a preventive way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting it to prevent HIV infection. PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool and has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by up to 92 percent. That’s amazing! It can also be combined with condoms and other prevention methods for even greater protection than when used alone.