Biomedical prevention methods — pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) — are needed to accelerate progress toward ending the HIV epidemic in DC.
With PrEP, people who are HIV-negative take a daily dose of antiretroviral medication to lower their risk of acquiring HIV through sexual activity by more than 90% (or from injection drug use by more than 70%).
With PEP, when started within 72 hours after exposure to HIV, antiretroviral medications can reduce the risk of getting HIV among those who have been exposed to the virus through sexual behavior, injection drug use, or other routes.
DC has made significant progress in expanding access to PrEP by implementing social marketing programs, providing financial assistance with medication costs, supporting peer-based networks, and providing capacity-building services. DC Health has seen encouraging success with staying on PrEP; however, challenges remain that are related to misinformation, stigma, and the perception of risk. To ensure expansion and utilization of PrEP and PEP, we will implement activities directed at promotion, awareness, and accessibility, including the following:
- Develop a PEP social marketing campaign.
- Expand PrEP social marketing on a variety of media platforms.
- Develop PrEP and PEP educational materials in multiple languages.
- Recruit demographically diverse and culturally affirming peer navigators to educate and connect individuals to PrEP services.
- Hold focus groups with the community to find out their knowledge of and opinions about PrEP and PEP.
- Create a map or directory for PrEP and PEP access points throughout the District.
- Disseminate PrEP and PEP educational materials throughout the District.
- Establish a 24/7 PEP hotline and access program with immediate prescription availability.
- Increase access points for PrEP and PEP in the District through various funding opportunities
- Fund a status-neutral wellness program that incorporates PrEP.
- Through the PrEP housing pilot, provide temporary housing and case management services to address the social determinant of health needs of young men of color who have sex with men who are using PrEP.
- Develop a PrEP On-Demand Pilot Program
- Build the capacity of the DC Health and Wellness Center and hire a case manager to assess individuals using PrEP and PEP for adherence and to assist with scheduling visits for those who missed appointments.