SOURCE: AIDS Services Foundation Orange County

AIDS Services Foundation Orange County

February 21, 2017 14:10 ET

AIDS Services Foundation Orange County Takes Major Strides in Prep Education

The Non-Profit Hires Ryan Assaf as its First Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Navigator

IRVINE, CA--(Marketwired - Feb 21, 2017) -  AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) -- a nonprofit AIDS service organization that has helped more than 7,000 people living with HIV and AIDS in Orange County since 1985 -- has taken a huge step towards educating the community on Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) education by announcing its new PrEP Navigator Program, spearheaded by Ryan Assaf. In this new role, Assaf will provide confidential assessment for both HIV positive and negative clients; develop PrEP resources and a network of PrEP providers; and promote PrEP awareness and outreach to various community sites including the Orange County Needle Exchange, colleges, nightclubs and health fair events.

"We are excited to begin offering this program to the community and we welcome Ryan into this new role with open arms," said ASF executive director and CEO Philip Yaeger. "With approximately 50,000 new HIV infections each year in the United States alone and neither a cure nor vaccine available, prevention is key. And we are grateful for the ability to now provide valuable and much-needed PrEP access to Orange County."

A medication approved by the FDA in 2012, when taken regularly, PrEP has been shown to prevent the HIV infection from taking hold if you are exposed to the virus. While several studies have shown PrEP's effectiveness to be 92 percent or more with just four doses per week and up to 99 percent if taken seven days a week, usage and awareness remains low. The goal of the PrEP Navigator Program is to ensure that those who are HIV negative and at risk of being exposed to HIV, are effectively linked to and managed on PrEP. As ASF's PrEP Navigator, Assaf will increase awareness of the medicine, provide access to it and help put an end to the AIDS epidemic in Orange County.

Prior to accepting his new position at ASF, Assaf was an intern for Health Education and Prevention. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a degree in public health sciences, where he was president of Public Health Brigades. Having traveled to other countries for previous roles, Assaf continues to remain involved in HIV prevention research in South Africa, which includes PrEP and anti-retroviral treatment adherence.

"I've been a long-time supporter of ASF and its mission to serve Orange County," said Assaf. "I am proud to now be an ambassador for the organization and for PrEP, and I look forward to raising more awareness about this highly safe and highly effective tool for HIV prevention."

To learn more about PrEP, ASF and how to get involved, please visit the ASF website at http://www.ocasf.org/.

AIDS Services Foundation Orange County (ASF) is a nonprofit AIDS service organization that has helped more than 7,000 people living with HIV disease in Orange County since 1985. ASF serves the local community impacted by HIV and AIDS by providing food, transportation, housing, emergency financial assistance, counseling, education and preventative services. You can learn more about the organization by visiting www.ocasf.org. Follow ASF on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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