JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- HIV/AIDS continues to be an epidemic in New Jersey with approximately 37,000 residents living with the virus.
But through the program: Ready, Set, PrEP, the federal government is aiming to reduce the number of new HIV cases by 75% in five years.
"New Jersey over the past couple of years has seen about 1,100 new cases of HIV per year. So far our efforts, especially around prevention, seem to be working. The roll-out of the new federal program: Ready, Set, PrEP, is going to be a significant piece of that puzzle," said Christopher Menschner, Assistant Commissioner at the New Jersey Department of Health.
PrEP, short for pre-exposure prophylaxis, is an FDA approved medication taken daily to prevent HIV negative people from becoming infected.
Now, with the rollout of Ready, Set, Prep, the medication will be available to those who qualify at no cost as long as they test negative for HIV, have a valid medical prescription and have no prescription drug coverage.
"It has been shown statistically, that in areas where PrEP is being used the incidents of new HIV infections have dropped significantly," said Dr. Adriana Grigoriu, and Infectious disease specialist at the Jersey City Medical Center.
Dr. Grigoriu recommends PrEP be taken every day, regularly and responsibly and warns against misconceptions that can put you at risk of contracting the virus.
"Some of the misconceptions are that you take PrEP while you're infected or you take it before or after a sexual encounter," said Dr. Grigoriu, which she warned to be dangerous misunderstandings about PrEP.
To find out if you qualify for Ready, Set, PrEP, visit GetYourPrep.com for more information.
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Ready, Set, PrEP: The battle to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New Jersey
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