Houston Health Department recommends HIV testing, PrEP awareness during National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

HOUSTON – The Houston Health Department (HHD) encourages people to use National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Feb. 7 as an opportunity to get an HIV test and learn how to avoid acquiring the virus, including the usage of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP).

People needing an HIV test can visit their family doctor or one of HHD’s health centers across Houston.

PrEP is a once-a-day pill that reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 92 percent if used as prescribed and with condoms.

“One of our major goals is to ensure that people are aware of all methods now used to prevent HIV,” said William Campbell, HIV program manager at HHD. “This includes the use of PrEP among people who don’t have HIV but are at very high risk of getting it.”

HHD health centers offering PrEP are the Northside Health Center, 8504 Schuller Road; Sharpstown Health Center, 6201 Bonhomme Road; and Sunnyside Health Center, 4605 Wilmington Street. HHD staff can refer its clients to programs that assist with payment for the medication.

People can call 832-393-5010 or the City of Houston’s 311 information line to find the nearest health center. They can also go online to HoustonHealth.org.

HHD receives reports of about 1,200 new HIV cases every year. Blacks in Houston and Harris County represent 51 percent of the 28,873 HIV infections reported to HHD since 1999.

HHD’s strategies to reduce the number of new HIV infections include linking people living with HIV to treatment or other services ensuring people remain in or return to medical care and educating people at risk for HIV about the benefits of adding PrEP in their personal prevention plan.