ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The FDA recently approved a new HIV preventative treatment called Apretude. It became available in February.
The injection of Apretude, like other PrEP medicine, is given to prevent a person from becoming infected with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS.
Love the Golden Rule clinic in St. Petersburg is the first in the Tampa Bay area to administer the new drug.
"This is a brand-new front. You know, we're on a new track here in HIV care," said Dr. Bob Wallace, owner of the clinic.
The drug is available for men, women and adolescents.
"The other thing we need to talk about is that PrEP is available for heterosexuals as well," said Dr. Wallace.
Being prescribed PrEP usually means taking a pill every day, but Dr. Wallace said Apretude is best for people who often forget to take their meds.
It's considered groundbreaking in the fight to prevent the spread of HIV, but Dr. Wallace is concerned that the people who need it most can't get it.
"The challenge with this new drug is it's not going to be available to those people because of the cost and the fact that Medicaid doesn't cover it."
Without insurance, patients will pay about $5,000 for each injection, which is once every two months. A price that Dr. Wallace said should eventually come down.
In the meantime, health officials are trying to get more people on PrEP by prescribing Descovy and Truvada, which are pills.
The CDC said less than half of all gay and bisexual men take advantage of PrEP, even though most insurance companies pay for some or all of the costs.
"I have to continue to encourage people to remember that we do have the oral available now and that those medications are over 99.5% effective in reducing the risk of HIV infection," said Dr. Wallace.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the oral version of PrEP in 2012.
More information on PrEP, which prevents HIV: