Collaboration Enhances PrEP Education

The results of a recent study conducted by the University of Michigan, released on January 10, 2020, indicate that collaboration between psychosocial providers (defined as social workers and public health service providers) and primary care providers may improve pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) access for populations most vulnerable to HIV infection——men who have sex with men, women of color, transgender women, and drug users.

The findings, published in the latest issue of the Journal of General Internal Medicine, come from information garnered from surveys of psychosocial providers in New York City. Researchers collected baseline information from psychosocial providers from 2014 through 2016, and conducted twelve-month follow-ups from 2015 through 2017. The surveys examined various provider characteristics, such as PrEP training, staff satisfaction, the number of services provided, and providers’ caseloads.

The study found that the number of psychosocial providers offering PrEP education increased significantly from the survey’s baseline to its one-year follow-up. Researchers found that the psychosocial providers most likely to offer PrEP education were also more likely to have received formal HIV prevention training themselves and to have endorsed interprofessional collaboration.

“Psychosocial providers can improve PrEP use because they have recurrent and longer interactions with patients while offering services, such as mental health and drug screenings,” Rogério Pinto, the study’s lead author and University of Michigan professor of social work, said in a press release. “Psychosocial providers,” he continued, “are well-equipped to help vulnerable individuals access PrEP… Expanding educational outreach efforts to psychosocial providers, including those in more remote areas of the country, is an important first step toward linking patients to primary care providers who can prescribe PrEP.”

With recent news on social media, such as Facebook, regarding “misinformation” about PrEP, it is increasingly important for high-risk patients to be accurately informed about the efficacy of PrEP, including the small but established risk of possible long-term side effects of Truvada, including loss of bone mineral density and kidney damage.

—Reporting by Hank Trout

Hank Trout, Senior Editor, edited Drummer, Malebox, and Folsom magazines in the early 1980s. A long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS (diagnosed in 1989), he is a forty-year resident of San Francisco, where he lives with his husband Rick. Follow him on Twitter @HankTroutWriter.