This year, The MetroHealth System, in partnership with the AIDS Funding Collaborative and with support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, is launching a PrEP navigation program. HIV PrEP – pre-exposure prophylaxis – is said to be the “birth control pill” of HIV. It is a single pill regimen of two anti-HIV medications. It was approved in 2012 by the FDA for HIV prevention and when taken daily, it is more than 90% effective at preventing HIV infection if you are exposed to the virus. We have not been successful in decreasing our local HIV infection rate over the past decade – and better access to HIV PrEP is an important and underutilized tool in our response.HIV PrEP – pre exposure prophylaxis – is said to be the “birth control pill” of HIV. Find out how new PrEP resources are coming to Cleveland Click To Tweet
HIV PrEP is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicaid. There are many local providers trained to start and follow patients on PrEP (see OhioPrEP.org for a complete listing). However, there is not broad public awareness of PrEP, due to marketing restrictions placed on the drug maker. And people who are at greater risk for HIV are also those who may be marginalized by our systems or not feel connected to a health clinic.
When taken daily, it is more than 90% effective at preventing HIV infection if you are exposed to the virus.
Enter PrEP navigators. This best practice model focuses on getting patients who are eligible and interested in HIV PrEP to the clinics that can support them. The navigators will serve as the liaison between PrEP clinical providers and the community, and will assist patients in overcoming barriers to accessing PrEP. These barriers could include inadequate health care benefits, lack of transportation and challenges securing appointments or referrals for screenings required to get started on the medication.
The program has funding for a one-year pilot and partners hope to learn more about what a successful local process will look like to support individuals access to HIV PrEP.