The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is highlighting its HIV prevention unit on World AIDS Day.
The department’s effort includes outreach to at-risk populations, education, and prevention.
Heather Krieger, DHHS Infectious Disease Programs manager, says Nebraska has recorded 83 new cases of HIV-AIDS so far this year, which is about the average for the state.
“I believe our highest [number of new cases] was in 2010 when we had 114 cases reported,” Krieger tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Since that time, we’ve seen a decline and it has very much leveled off.”
The effort to stop the spread of HIV now includes the prevention drug known as PrEP.
Krieger says it has been around for five years, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has really pushed it in the last 18 months.
“PrEP is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, which is a use of anti-HIV medications, which if taken regularly can support HIV-negative people from becoming infected with the disease,” she says.
The CDC reports daily PrEP use reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90 percent. For those who inject drugs, it reduces the risk by more than 70 percent.
A newer outreach effort for DHHS, according to Krieger, is social media
“That wasn’t something that we were really doing much preventative activities around,” she explains, “but with the growing nature of social media, that’s something our program has had to adjust.”
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:44]