Working with Local Health Departments to Support PrEP for HIV Prevention

World AIDS Day. December 1. By Gretchen Weiss, MPH, Senior Program Analyst and Alyssa Kitlas, Program Analyst

Yesterday was World AIDS Day, a day to remember those who have lost their lives to HIV and AIDS; recognize the challenges that remain in ending the epidemic and improving the lives of those living with HIV; celebrate the progress we have made in curbing the epidemic; and unite in commitment to an AIDS-free generation. Over the past few years, incredible progress has been made across the HIV care continuum. Among the key achievements and successes has been pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. PrEP, which involves taking a pill a day to prevent HIV, represents a breakthrough in biomedical HIV prevention.

For the past few years, NACCHO has been engaged in dialogue with local health departments and its federal and industry partners about achieving the full promise of PrEP, how PrEP will be rolled out in the “real world” (i.e., implemented outside of clinical trials and demonstration sites), and what the role of local health departments will be. In late 2013, NACCHO received funding from Gilead Sciences, Inc., the manufacture of Truvada, which is currently the only FDA approved medication for PrEP, to develop an educational program about PrEP as a component of comprehensive HIV prevention. NACCHO launched its Web-based PrEP and Local Health Departments educational series in October 2014. The series is composed of three modules, the third of which was released yesterday:

  • Module 1: The Science of PrEP for HIV Prevention and the US Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines for PrEP
  • Module 2: Who Might Benefit from PrEP? Assessing Benefit at a Population and Individual Level
  • Module 3: Thinking About Incorporating PrEP into Your HIV Prevention Programs? Examples and Models from Local Health Departments

The goal of NACCHO’s educational series is to increase awareness and knowledge of PrEP among local health departments. To achieve this goal, NACCHO undertook a number of activities to explore, identify, and define the various roles that local health departments can play in supporting PrEP as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention strategy. Module 3 highlights the findings of these activities by detailing the various roles for local health departments and providing examples of what local health departments across the country are doing, such as providing PrEP through health department clinics; referring clients to providers for PrEP; creating online resource directories for providers and community members; and offering direct provider education and training opportunities. Similar to the previous two modules, Module 3 includes two webcasts (pre-recorded lectures), a discussion guide, and supporting resources and tools.

Recognizing that PrEP poses a number of questions and that implementation will look different across the country, NACCHO has hosted live webinars with series instructor Dr. Mark Thrun, Director, HIV/STD Prevention and Control, Denver Public Health. The webinars provide an opportunity for participants to ask questions, share information about their PrEP-related activities, and learn from colleagues and partners across the country. We hope that you will join us for our upcoming webinar on Dec. 16, 12:30–2:00 PM EST. Register here and come prepared to ask questions and share what your health department is doing to support PrEP in your jurisdiction.

We want to thank all the health departments that have provided input and guidance on NACCHO’s PrEP activities and look forward to engaging more of you in this important work. NACCHO is currently developing a PrEP Story Bank to document, share, and support local health department efforts. Please e-mail Gretchen Weiss on NACCHO’s HIV/STI team at gweiss@naccho.org if you would like to share how you are supporting PrEP delivery in your jurisdiction.

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