HIV battle has new tool in Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Fan Free Clinic (FFC) in Richmond is offering patients a new way to protect themselves from HIV. Truvada is a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

“This is probably the best tool that we have since the condom in actually battling HIV,” says Darius Pryor, an Outreach Specialist for FFC who learned he was HIV positive in 2010.

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Darius Pryor and Christina Kincaid with Fan Free Clinic.

Christina Kincaid, Director of Health Outreach, says PrEP can reduce the risk of becoming infected by up to 95%.

“It makes it so HIV can’t get into your healthy immune system cells, so it works to keep it blocked out,” she explained.

 

It has become a big part of FFC’s education campaigns on social media and dating apps like Grindr and Tinder.

“That’s one of the spots that they meet their partners, so we use that avenue to talk about safe sex practices,” added Felicia Bowman, an HIV Test Counselor.

“This is probably the best tool that we have since the condom in actually battling HIV.”

According to the Richmond City Health District (RCHD), there were 66 new cases of HIV last year. That is down from 79 in 2014, but Richmond still has the fourth highest rate of the disease in Virginia.

PrEP has to be taken every day to be effective, and Pryor stresses condoms are still a must to have safe sex.

“It’s not a morning after pill, it’s not a, ‘oh, I had a crazy night, I need to go get PrEP.’ That’s not how it works,” he said. “You never really know what someone else has or does not have, but you can always trust yourself.”

Anyone interested in learning more about PrEP at Fan Free Clinic should call (804) 358-6343.

The RCHD also just started offering the drug as part of its weekly STI Clinics. Follow this link for the schedule or call Kendra Weindling, STI Program Supervisor, at (804) 482-8007.

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