For years, health and prevention professionals have contended that the old policy was "unconscionable", possibly resulting in an untold number of HIV infections that may have been prevented with emergency HIV treatment. While some states such as New York developed their own treatment policies for rape victims, gay men, and IV drug users, a national standard of care has not been in place outside of the health care industry.
In the past, the CDC was reluctant to make such a recommendation due to a limited amount of data that proved the effectiveness of emergency treatment. But with the emergence of recent lab data that showed positive effects for those incidentally exposed, the CDC felt it was time to change their recommendation.
The CDC emphasized that their new recommendation is not a substitute for reducing the incidence of high risk behaviors including unsafe sex and sharing needles. The CDC added that the recommendation did not apply to chronic IV drug users or those who frequently engage in high risk sexual behavior.