CHICAGO — The American Medical Association (AMA) adopted new policies today recognizing the need for improved education of physicians on the effective use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV acquisition in high-risk individuals. Tenofovir/emtricitabine (also known as PrEP) is a once-a-day prevention option for HIV-negative men and women that reduces the risk of sexual HIV acquisition. Although the FDA approved PrEP in July 2012, a 2015 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 34 percent of primary care doctors and nurses had never heard of PrEP.

"With more than 1.2 million people in the United States living with substantial risk of HIV infection but fewer than five percent of them taking PrEP, there is significant ground to gain in stemming the incidence of HIV," said AMA Board Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D. "Educating physicians about the effective use of PrEP and encouraging insurers to cover the costs associated with its administration will make the transmission of HIV rarer and our nation healthier."

The 2014 guidelines from the U.S. Public Health Service recommended PrEP as prevention in high-risk individuals, and cautioned that high medication adherence is critical to PrEP efficacy. Meanwhile, the average price of tenofovir/emtricitabine in the United States is $1,539.90 for 30 tablets.

Accordingly, the AMA also adopted two additional policies related to PrEP: First, that the AMA will advocate that all insurers be required to cover the costs associated with the administration of PrEP; and that the AMA work with government officials to study the feasibility of providing PrEP free of charge to high-risk individuals.

The new policies adopted today build on years of AMA efforts to bolster education and training to combat HIV/AIDS and to increase multi-layer collaboration to increase public awareness.

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The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.