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Wednesday, June 25,2014

PrEP-aring for action

Newly launched campaign blends HIV education, online outreach with local events

by BECKY McKENDRY

Monday marked the launch of PrEP4ITNow, an online campaign stressing the importance of HIV testing, status awareness and prevention education.

The campaign’s official website, PrEP4ItNow.com, showcases information on prevention methods and videos from community members like Gregory Fink, who have been tested. It is a project of the weekly LGBT newspaper Between the Lines and various nonprofit organizations, in anticipation of National HIV Testing Day on Friday.

“Oftentimes, people think the only option is to only use condoms when there are other prevention options out there for them,” said Dwayne Riley, prevention coordinator at the Lansing Area AIDS Network.

The campaign takes its name from one of these options, arguably one of the biggest prevention breakthroughs in the history of the HIV virus — pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP.

That prevention strategy involves HIV-negative in dividuals who may be at high risk of contracting the virus taking the daily drug Truvada. It can prevent transmission of the virus by 90 percent or better, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“There are many prevention tools that people aren’t aware of,” Riley said. “It’s about choices.”

From 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, HIV testing will be available at Fink Diversity Psychological Services at 1310 Turner St. in Lansing. At Esquire Club, local drag performers Delicious and Cheetah will host bingo from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m., followed by trivia until 9 p.m. After the trivia contest, Spiral Video and Dance Bar will host its regular weekly drag show.

Riley called the mix of entertainment, social media and community involvement a prime opportunity to reach out to people all across the area.

“This helps engage people and allows them to be a part of prevention in a more interactive way,” he said.

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