PrEP may be increasingly popular among white gay and bisexual men, but the HIV prevention strategy has yet to catch on with Latinos and other LGBTQ people of color.
Anthony Tielemans has been on PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) for three years and looks to National Latinx AIDS Awareness Day—observed each year on October 15—as a time to encourage other Latinos to consider starting the one-pill-a-day regimen. Tielemans is a health education specialist at the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
Though PrEP doesn’t offer protection from other STDs like condoms do, it’s safe and reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 99% when used daily.
“Sexual health is not talked about enough in the Latino community,” says Tielemans. “I wasn’t really taught about sexual health and about how to protect myself but now I feel more sexually empowered and at ease.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Controls (CDC), 25 percent of new HIV diagnoses were among Latinos, yet only 3 percent of Latinos who could benefit from PrEP have prescriptions for it. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a national survey in 2017 which found that only one in 10 of the Latinos surveyed between the ages of 18 and 30 knew about PrEP and other advances in HIV prevention.