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Us Helping Us'
5-Year PrEP-versary

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Us Helping Us 5-Year PrEP Anniversary

On July 16, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Truvada was the first approved medication, followed by Descovy in 2019. In 2022, Apretude was approved by the FDA as the first injectable PrEP. When taken as prescribed, HIV PrEP is highly effective in preventing someone who is HIV-negative from acquiring HIV through sex. Although these effective biomedical interventions exist, disparities between Black communities and white communities exist. According to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 13% of Black youth and adults who could benefit from PrEP were prescribed it, compared to 94% of white youth and adults.

                                          

HIV continues to impact the entire Black community, and not just Black gay, bisexual, and other sexual minority men (SMM),” says Dr. DeMarc Hickson. “We continue to see new diagnoses of HIV in Black cisgender (heterosexual) and transgender women as well as our Black heterosexual brothers – who have been left out of the conversation for far too long. But, we must first increase HIV testing so that everyone can know their HIV status. Then, if the test is non-reactive (negative), one should discuss PrEP with their healthcare provider. And if the test is reactive (positive), then one should be linked to HIV treatment. If someone doesn't feel comfortable going to other places, or you are looking for a place to go, then come visit us. All are welcome, and our offices are affirming, non-judgmental, and stigma-free.“

 

Us Helping Us received its first PrEP-related grant from DC Health/HAHSTA in 2012-13 to educate community members about PrEP and to help them navigate the healthcare system to initiate PrEP. After more than five years of providing PrEP education and being a liaison between the community and PrEP care, and with the bold assistance from Danielle Houston, DC Community Liaison (at the time) at Gilead Sciences, Us Helping Us wrote its first prescription for PrEP on February 21, 2019. This work continued for the next few years with the unwavering support of Dr. Theo Hodge at the Washington Health Institute until Us Helping Us was able to get its sea legs and stand up a robust, nurse-led program on its own.

 

As of January 31, 2024, Us Helping Us has provided PrEP care to 343 individuals – of various races/ethnicities and all sexual orientations, gender identities, and veteran status – and has an active PrEP client population of 144. “We have a unique PrEP service delivery model that considers the whole person and meets the person where they are, literally,” Antoine Pollard, Principal PrEP Coordinator (and Community Engagement Coordinator), adds. ‘And PrEP is not just for Black gay men. In fact, our first PrEP client was a Black heterosexual, cisgender woman. She missed her initial appointment, but we were able to start her out on PrEP later that week.” “So, regardless of your race, sexual orientation, or gender identity, if you are having sex without a condom, contact me or one of our PrEP Coordinators to discuss if PrEP is a good option for you,” added Reginald Glover, Principal PrEP Coordinator.

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In February, Us Helping Us also restarted the process for providing injectable PrEP. “This is a game changer,” says Joey Brown, Registered Nurse. “We already have 13 clients on injectable PrEP and will enroll/initiate at least ten more over the next few days. Tyson Anderson, Nurse Practitioner, and I have created a convenient and streamlined process to get someone started in a timely manner."

As Us Helping Us strives for EXCELLENCE, we continue to develop ways to reach those who can benefit from PrEP the most, as well as address the multi-level barriers that impact the Black community's access to and utilization of PrEP. Recently, Us Helping Us pilot tested a social network strategy (SNS) intervention to increase PrEP initiation and adherence among Black MSM in the Washington, DC area. As a next step, Us Helping Us intends to implement this innovative strategy in its existing service delivery model to increase PrEP in the Black community. Similarly, Us Helping Us recently collaborated with Researchers at George Washington University (Dr. Donaldson Conserve) and Population Council (Dr. Waimar Tun) to develop a community-based PrEP service delivery model (e.g., via mobile health units or vans, tents, or other mobile structures) to increase PrEP among Black adults in Ward 7 and Ward 8 in DC and Prince George’s County, Maryland. When successful, we will expand these efforts to areas in the DMV.

 

We are excited about the work ahead and hope that you will follow us on social media.

Click Here to schedule your appointment.

 

To read more about PrEP at Us Helping Us, visit: www.ushelpingus.org/prep

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