The fight against HIV is most effective when people have access to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) or the use of antiretroviral medications to combat HIV infection among individuals who are HIV-negative. While PrEP access will likely turn the tide of the HIV epidemic in the U.S. and elsewhere, not everyone or every community has equal access and several social and economic factors remain barriers to PrEP use. This is particularly the case for black young men who have sex with other men (YMSM) and young transgender women.
The need for increased HIV prevention awareness and access has prompted researchers from the Indiana University Rural Center for AIDS/STD Prevention (RCAP) to team up with colleagues at the University of Chicago, Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Larkin College of Pharmacy, and Walgreens Pharmacies to expand access to PrEP in community pharmacy settings, particularly in communities with high rates of STI and HIV infection.
"Our studies among Indiana pharmacies have shown that pharmacists are open to expanded their roles in HIV prevention," says Dr. Beth Meyerson, Associate Professor of Health Policy & Management and RCAP Co-Director at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "Our partnership with pharmacies in Gary, Indianapolis, and Chicago will help us develop an intervention to expand PrEP awareness and access, especially in communities with low resource and high need."
The research team is led by Dr. Brandon Hill, Executive Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) at the University of Chicago. Through a two-year grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health, the team will develop a scalable community pharmacy-based PrEP educational training program, referral system for pharmacists and providers, and PrEP educational kiosk tailored to the needs of pharmacy patients and the pharmacy staff who serve them.
"RCAP is pleased to be part of this research team," said Dr. Bill Yarber, Senior Director of RCAP, Kinsey Institute Senior Scientist, and Professor of Applied Health Science at the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington. "Our intervention development experience, pharmacy research experience, and community research partnerships can potential advance HIV prevention here and elsewhere."