The Wyoming Department of Health says they are launching a campaign to promote a drug that can help prevent new HIV infections for those at risk.

The medication is a daily use prescription pill known as PrEP, which stands for Pre-Exposures Prophylaxis. It can help prevent infection to those at high risk of getting HIV through sex or injection drug use.

Brittany Wardle, Prevention Program manager with the WDH Communicable Disease Unit, said PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. Among people who inject drugs, it can reduce the risk of getting HIV by more than 70 percent.

“While HIV is now considered a treatable chronic disease, it is still a serious condition we want to help people prevent,” Wardle said. “PrEP can do that very effectively.”

Wardle noted that lifetime HIV treatment can cost upwards of $300,000.

According to the WDH, PrEP is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration meaning private insurance policies may cover PrEP costs, as well as related doctor’s visits and lab tests.

“We recommend people call their insurance provider to find out about co-pays, deductibles and any required pre-authorization forms,” Wardle said.

The WDH says those who are not insured or who aren’t eligible for Medicaid can request financial support  through Advancing Access and to visit the Partnership for Prescription Assistance or look to enroll in the Gilead Advancing Access® Co-Pay Program.

Wardle explains people at higher risk that may benefit from PrEP the most are those who have sex with different partners and do not always use condoms, are starting a new sexual relationship with a partner whose HIV status is unknown, have injected drugs via sharing needles, or have been in drug treatment in the past six months.

WDH further recommends to help prevent HIV infection that all people limit the number of sexual partners, practice proper condom use, and get tested before starting a new sexual relationship.

To learn more about PrEP and why it matters for Wyoming residents at risk for HIV, you can visit wyprepmatters.com.

More information about the risks for HIV infection can be found at www.knowyo.org. The site provides options for no or low-cost HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and hepatitis testing.