Implementing a pharmacist-led HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) program could improve patient satisfaction, says a study from Oxford University. Other benefits include increased pharmacist acceptability and patient access to these services. The study held pharmacist-led PrEP programs that included pharmacists from a university-based HIV clinic, a community pharmacy and two community-based clinics.
Why It Matters
Despite the effectiveness of HIV PrEP in preventing HIV infection, access to its prescription and use is not always available to the patients who need it. In fact, one in eight PrEP-eligible patients in rural areas would have to travel more than 30 minutes to visit a provider. The study sought to understand whether incorporating pharmacists in the PrEP care process would help reduce the barriers associated with it. The pharmacists conducted PrEP visits with participants and tracked retention, patient satisfaction, and pharmacist acceptability over the course of a year.
Results of the study were promising as 100% of the patients reported that they would recommend the program and none of the patients tested positive for HIV during the study. Participants also reported that the PrEP programs provided quick service, ease of care, extended hours for follow-up sessions, and friendly pharmacists. However, it is important to note that patient retention rate dropped to 28% by the end of the study. On the pharmacy end, pharmacists reported feeling comfortable with PrEP visits and minimal workflow disruption.
The success of the study speaks to the growing need for pharmacists to expand the clinical services they offer. Prior research has shown that pharmacist collaboration with other healthcare providers in HIV prevention programs like HIV screening and pharmacy-based syringe distribution has also been successful in improving patient outcomes. With over 60,000 community pharmacies in the U.S., pharmacists have the potential to reach a wide range of patients at risk of HIV.
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