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Quad Cities group seeing uptick in HIV prevention drug PrEP

The Project of the Quad Cities has seen a rise in the use of PrEP, but only in white gay and bisexual men. An outreach program has been created to tackle this issue.

MOLINE, Ill. — A national report shows that PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), a drug to help prevent HIV infections, is working, but only for white gay and bisexual men.

News 8's Charles Hart spoke with Marketing and Communications Director for the Project of the Quad Cities Tyler Mitchell, who said the QC is seeing an uptick in the use of PrEP, mostly in white gay and bisexual men. He said they're seeing a gap in the Black and Hispanic communities.

"The PrEP uptake in those communities has not been what we would want to see," Mitchell said. "And what is most concerning is that those are the communities as well, that are being so disproportionately impacted by HIV and AIDS today."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the total number of HIV infections is going down, and while that's good news, there are still disparities.

For example, in 2019 the CDC reported:

  • 5,100 white estimated with HIV.
  • 8,900 Black Americans estimated with HIV.
  • 7,900 Hispanic estimated with HIV.

Data from AIDS VU shows in 2020, nearly 3,000 people in Iowa were living with HIV, while in Illinois, that number was more than 35,000. To put that into perspective, the Census Bureau says Iowa has a population of roughly 3.19 million while Illinois has 12.81 million

Data from the CDC show in 2020, Illinois was in the top 10 in the U.S. for newly diagnosed adults and adolescents with HIV, having nearly 1,100 new diagnoses.

Officials from the Project of the Quad Cities said they're trying to tackle this trend on a local level.

"We have an outreach and prevention team that is actually going into the community, right, and meeting people where they are, where they work, where they live, so that we can actually provide those services to them in an environment that is comfortable for them," Mitchell said.

The Project of the Quad Cities offers testing at their offices in downtown Moline. Those who need testing can find the link to schedule an appointment by clicking/tapping here

Officials from the Project of the QC send a reminder that this isn't just a disease that impacts the LGBTQ+ community.

"When HIV gets into the body, it cannot, you know, distinguish between a gay body or a straight body or a male body or a female body, it is going to spread and infect regardless," Mitchell said.

Mitchell also told News 8 that national trends on PrEP users and HIV infections are fairly consistent on the local level.

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