Susanne Doblecki Lewis, MD, Chief of Infectious Disease and Director of HIV Prevention at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Can you tell me a little bit more about maybe your current research and what you're working on?
"So some of the things that we're working on now are trying to improve approaches so that people can really easily access the tools that we already have available for treating and preventing HIV. So we have wonderful medications right now that are extremely effective in treatment and prevention. The problem is that people can't access them or aren't easily able to access them."
What are some of the options to protect ourselves from HIV?
"Everyone makes a decision about how they want to go about protecting themselves. For many folks, prep can be a nice option because you can take every day in the morning with a vitamin and, or you know, as part of your daily routine, you don't need to worry about it in the moment. And then you're protected. We still have folks who aren't aware of it, although hopefully that's reducing. So you have to know about it to know that it's an option for you. Also, some folks just don't realize that it is available to them, or the places where they know that they can get it can be difficult to access"
The PrEP is sometimes for people to be on medications, even if they do not have HIV AIDS, is that correct?
"Yes, that's right. So PrEP is when people who do not have HIV, or not currently living with HIV, but feel that they may be exposed to the virus, take medication in order to prevent getting HIV. And we know that PrEP works extremely well. So when it's taken the way that it's supposed to be taken, which is usually a daily pill, it can be more than 99% effective, so incredibly effective and important tool for reducing HIV infections. And we know that that can work so well. But really, of course, it all depends on getting it to folks who could benefit from it and doing that in a way that's acceptable."