'It's monumental': FDA approves first injectable HIV prevention treatment

FAYETTEVILE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville native John Rowell calls the FDA's approval of the first injectable treatment for HIV pre-exposure prevention, PrEP, "monumental."

The FDA said the injectable is administered once a month for two months and then every two months after that.

Rowell, 25, takes PrEP, an HIV-prevention pill daily, and takes his sexual health seriously.

" I take it to not only keep myself safe but also keep my partners safe," said Rowell.

Rowell has been on PrEP for a year and a half. He is now switching to the injectable because for him, it's difficult remembering to take the pill each day.

"Every now and again you tend to forget. It's like I know I forgot today, I can take it tomorrow, but then that worry in the back of your mind is what's going to happen if I don't take it," said Rowell.

Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows there are 34,963 people living in the Tar Heel State with HIV. People between the ages of 20 and 34 have the highest rate of infection. In 2020, African Americans accounted for 57 percent of newly diagnosed cases with black men contracting the virus more. The data says Southern states have the highest rate of infection with North Carolina ranking 11th in the nation.

Christina Adeleke with the North Carolina AIDS Action Network said it's possible injectable PrEP could help lower HIV transmission. She said it also helps reduce the stigma around taking the pill daily.

"Being able to have as many options for folks as possible is really key to not only treat HIV but in this case prevent HIV," said Adeleke. "It helps with that present reminder that you have every day that you're trying to avoid something in particular."

Rowell has hope that one day a cure for HIV and AIDS could be on the horizon.

"Now that we've gotten so far, it's monumental in the movement of ending the HIV epidemic," said Rowell.
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