Health Care News, Health Center News, Social Determinants of Health

World AIDS Day: Spreading the Word About PrEP

AIDS affects everyone

Pedro Carneiro, MPH, Phd(c), is a Clinical Data Scientist at NACHC. 

Today is World AIDS Day, and we are called to reflect on shortcomings as well as excellent progress toward ending the HIV and AIDS global epidemics. Some shortcomings remain persistent. Globally, women remain disproportionally impacted by HIV. Here in the United States, this burden falls disproportionally on gay, bisexual and/or transgender communities, as well as Black cisgender women. Still, there is reason to be more excited than ever about recent progress made in HIV prevention and treatment.  

HIV therapy, for example has evolved and improved significantly. One-pill-a-day regimens have become the standard of care for most people living with HIV. HIV combination therapy has dropped to as few as two compounds, and clinicians have embraced the concept of test-and-treat for newly diagnosed individuals. The United States is well positioned to meet the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals, as well as its own 2030 goals to end the HIV epidemic.  

In the field of HIV prevention, we mark 10 years since FDA’s approval of PrEP (which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), a revolutionary drug that has slowly curbed new HIV diagnosis around the world. In the United States, we have more to do to ensure individuals know about PrEP and can access it.  

All the building blocks are in place  

Individuals now have access to three brand name PrEP medications, one generic drug, one intermittent-regimen, one injectable PrEP, and a pipeline of innovations soon to be available. There are ample HIV prevention options, so now it’s time to consider IF PrEP is an option and WHICH option may be best, considering behaviors and preferences.  

Over 200,000 individuals have chosen to give PrEP a try in the United States according to some accounts. Many more will have to make this decision if we are to significantly reduce HIV rates in our country.  

The health center movement remains committed to the fight against HIV/AIDS and we’re called upon to do more. After all, many communities that face higher odds of getting HIV are health center patients already. Health centers see a mix of young patients, those facing tougher social needs, those transitioning from adolescent health programs, LGBTQ+ patients, Black and Brown patients, and many patients who live in areas without culturally competent care.  

Health centers are called upon to:  
  • Provide comprehensive HIV prevention services 
  • Ensure our primary care programs appropriately integrate HIV treatment, prevention, and care 
  • Prepare staff to feel comfortable and able to provide LGBTQ+ competent service to anyone who seeks care 
Timely podcasts: Health Centers on the Front Lines 

We’re pleased to announce the upcoming release of three new HIV-focused episodes in support of this persistent work and excellent progress, featured on NACHC’s Health Centers on the Front Lines podcast. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, including: AppleAmazonGoogle Play and Spotify.

The first episode is about the “HIV Status Neutral Approach” and how to take action. Listen to the podcast episode to learn about new evidence-based strategies to prevent HIV transmission as well as new prevention methods. The discussion of critical news in HIV prevention features guests Dr. Robyn Fanfair, Acting Division Director, CDC Division of HIV Prevention, Juan Carlos Loubriel, Director of Community Health and Wellness at Whitman-Walker Health, and Craig Thompson, CEO at APLA Health. 

The second episode, to be released later this month, will cover new tools to fight HIV, including long-acting injectable PrEP and HIV treatment. 

The third episode offers health center perspectives about the barriers to care that Black cis- and trans-women face, interventions that may be lifesaving, and how health centers can improve the engagement of these women in HIV testing, prevention, and care. 

Look for those episodes, and more, on Health Centers on the Front Lines 

Find more PrEP resources

Pedro Carneiro is the Clinical Data Scientist on NACHC informatics team. He is also a PhD candidate in Community Health and Health policy at the CUNY school of Public Health, where he focuses on issues around the implementation and uptake of HIV prevention in the United States.