A San Francisco official looks to be the first public figure in the country to "come out of the PrEP closet," as he puts it in a piece for the Huffington Post. Scott Wiener—who represents a district he calls "ground zero for the HIV epidemic"—says he takes the daily antiviral pill Truvada to lower his risk of contracting HIV. He's urging other gay men to do the same. "A much larger segment of gay men should be taking a close look" at what's known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, Wiener tells the New York Times. Truvada as PrEP has been very slow to catch on across the country, which Wiener writes sees 50,000 new HIV infections each year. Researchers say PrEP could reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 99% if taken as prescribed.
The World Health Organization made a similar case to Wiener's this summer, but the San Francisco Chronicle calls Wiener's announcement "significant because so few people have been willing to talk openly about their use of Truvada." Though the drug's list price is just over $1,000 a month, Wiener says PrEP is covered by most health insurers (he personally pays $15 a month). For the uninsured or those with high-deductible plans, however, the price can be a problem. Wiener's colleague, David Campos, says he will ask the city's health department to develop a strategy that "addresses the educational and affordability issues" by December. "We have to start somewhere," says Campos, who adds that every prevented infection saves $355,000 in treatment costs. (Read more San Francisco stories.)