PrEP On Demand: San Francisco Startup Delivers HIV Prevention Medication
SAN FRANCISCO – Nurx, a health technology startup based in San Francisco, has begun making PrEP available to Californians through their web-based app. PrEP (short for Pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a new HIV prevention method in which people who do not have HIV take a daily pill (Truvada) to reduce chances of infection.
Today, about 1.2 million Americans are HIV positive. According to the latest CDC data, 43,899 people in the United states were newly diagnosed in 2014. The leading cause was male-to-male sexual contact, with 29,418 diagnoses, followed by heterosexual contact (10,527), injection drug use (2,635), and MSM & IDU (1,217).
In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Truvada to be used to reduce the risk of HIV transmission among individuals who do not have the virus and who are at high risk of being infected. If taken daily, PrEP can reduce the risk of getting HIV from sex by more than 90% and more than 70% among people who inject drugs. This past September, after the culmination of two-and-a-half-year study involving 657 patients who took Truvada for PrEP, researchers announced that there were no new HIV infections.
“Each year, more than 40,000 Americans are infected with HIV, however studies show that if taken daily, Truvada for PrEP can significantly reduce the chances of transmission of the virus. Our app makes Truvada more accessible for people who need this revolutionary drug”, says Edvard Engesaeth a medical doctor and cofounder of Nurx.
A recent report in the Oxford Journal found PrEP to be as safe as taking Aspirin, however, access to this revolutionary drug is a problem for many at-risk users today. According to the CDC, 1.2 million people should be on Truvada, yet only 21,000 actually take the drug. Lack of awareness about the drug is one reason why. Federal health officials estimate that about one third of primary care doctors and nurses are actually unaware of Truvada.
Accessibility is another reason for the low number of PrEP users. “In addition to the stigma and lack of information about PrEP, there is also a shortage of doctors who will prescribe it. We are making PrEP more accessible to those that need and want it,” says Hans Gangeskar, CEO and co-founder of Nurx.
4 Steps to PrEP With Nurx:
Health Questions: Answer a few questions, enter your insurance, and shipping information.
Lab Testing: Get tested at one of hundreds of locations around California. It only takes 15 mins.
Delivered to Your Door: Your prescription is delivered on-time, and at no extra cost.
Follow Up Care: Stay in touch with our doctor using our app.
Truvada for PrEP is the second medication to be made available through the Nurx app. Nurx initially released their app in December, 2015, to streamline the antiquated process many women face when getting their birth control. According to MTV News, Nurx is “The gift we’ve all been waiting for”, and TeenVogue says, “Nurx is essentially like Seamless or 1-800-CONTACTS for your reproductive organs.” To learn more about Nurx, Please click here.
Background: Nurx is a Y Combinator – backed health technology startup based in San Francisco, California. Nurx was founded by Hans Gangeskar and Edvard Engesaeth, MD. Gangeskar and Engesaeth, who have been friends since high school. Gangeskar has a background in law and computer science and previously worked at uBiome. Engesaeth, a medical doctor with experience in both internal and family medicine, left his practice to join Gangeskar and start Nurx