The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data Tuesday to alert the 1.2 million Americans and their doctors that they should be counseled about using the prevention strategy known as PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis.
That million-plus figure includes one in four, or 492,000, sexually active gay and bisexual adult men.
Taking Truvada, the only drug so far approved for PrEP, once daily makes it more difficult for HIV to establish a permanent infection when a person is exposed to the virus through sexual contact or injectable drug use. Also used in combination with other drugs to treat HIV, Truvada was approved for PrEP by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, but The Washington Postreports a recent survey showed that a third of primary care doctors had never heard of it.
That's one reason the CDC launched a multimedia campaign, "Treatment Works," in October to spread awareness.
The CDC announced new clinical guidelines in May that recommend anyone who is at an elevated risk for contracting HIV take Truvada as a preventive measure to help protect themselves from being infected with the virus, which can cause AIDS.
Studies have shown that PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV by a degree of 70 percent to more than 90 percent. In September, researchers at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco announced that 100 percent of the more than 600 high-risk individuals, most of whom were men who have sex with men, remained infection-free for two years by taking Truvada for a study.
In addition to the one in four gay and bisexual men, those who should consider PrEp are one in five, or 115,000, adults who inject drugs, and one in 200, or 620,000, sexually active straight adults.
These estimates come from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, National Survey on Drug Use and Health, and National Survey on Family Growth.
In September, The Advocate launched the #6in10Men campaign to highlight the projection that six in 10 black gay and bisexual men in the United States will be HIV-positive by the time they are 40 years old. Click here to read more.
And click here to read our award-winning in-depth series on PrEP -- its benefit or drawbacks, myths about its effects, and why the HIV prevention strategy has not been more widely accepted by gay men.
Read more from the CDC here.