Partnering with HIV specialists, organizations, and pharmacists
Family physicians who are unsure about initiating PrEP might consider referring complex patients, such as those with unclear eligibility or active HBV infection, to an infectious disease or HIV specialist or clinic for the initial evaluation. Once a patient has been started on PrEP, quarterly monitoring is simple and can be easily completed in a family medicine practice.
Depending on location and available services, pharmacists and local HIV and AIDS organizations might provide behavioral and adherence counseling and repeat testing during follow-up appointments. In our experience, working with a primary pharmacy that is familiar with patient assistance programs and prior authorization requirements facilitates smoother prescribing. The result? Lower cost to patients because of knowledge of copays and other assistance programs and willingness to use these secondary payers.
Bringing PrEP into the practice is workable
Providing PrEP is well within your scope of practice as a family physician. To assist you in making PrEP an effective component of your practice, we provide a list of sources of PrEP support in TABLE 5.
Because some physicians might still be reluctant to prescribe PrEP for patients who maintain their risk of HIV acquisition, we recommend that you think of PrEP as you do about statins. Discussing diet and exercise as a means of reducing cardiovascular events for every patient with hyperlipidemia is often insufficient; most physicians therefore also prescribe medication for patients who cannot change behaviors sufficiently to modify their cardiovascular risk factors. Similarly, you now have a preventive for HIV—a costly, lifelong infection—that is as cost-effective as statins are.26,33
Joanne D. Stekler, MD, MPH, Box 359931, Harborview Medical Center, 325 9th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104; firstname.lastname@example.org.