Implementing a Nurse-led HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Service (PrEP-RN) in a Public Health Unit STI Clinic: A Public Health Reform Analysis
Health Reform Observer - Observatoire des Réformes de Santé
HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an efficacious pharmacologic HIV prevention strategy aimed at persons who are high-risk for HIV infection. Historically, PrEP uptake has been limited by systems-level barriers relating to the high cost of medications and few prescriber access points. In Ottawa, a team of researchers and clinicians sought to increase PrEP access to priority groups by implementing a fully nurse-led PrEP service, known as PrEP-RN, as part of the public health unit's sexual
... th unit's sexual health clinic. This program was the first of its kind in Canada and required consideration from multiple stakeholders within the public health unit, and the Ottawa community. Patients at highest risk for HIV acquisition were offered a referral to PrEP-RN through a provider-driven, active-offer process by public health nurses, and medication coverage was provided to uninsured patients to ensure equal access to PrEP services. Preliminary results showed a 40% uptake of PrEP referrals among high-risk patients, demonstrating that this reform has been effective at reaching some priority groups; however, many persons continue to decline PrEP due to individual perceptions of risk (i.e., feeling they do not need this HIV prevention intervention).