About half of general care physicians say they don’t know enough about pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication to discuss with patients, according to a Sermo survey released Thursday.
Coinciding with World AIDS Day, the research highlighted the gap between general care physicians and infectious disease specialists when it comes to understanding PrEP medication options for patients to prevent the spread of HIV. The survey suggested that an opportunity to further educate and empower physicians may benefit patients seeking out PrEP.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV. Gilead Sciences’ Truvada was the first PrEP approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012 but challenges still persist as HCPs and healthcare organizations seek to eradicate HIV.
In recent years, some pharmaceutical companies have stepped up their ad campaigns to further the messaging and mission around PrEP.
These conversations are inherently valuable since the list of obstacles to understanding PrEP are extensive.
Surveyed physicians pointed out that cost is often a key consideration when discussing PrEP, as 26% said it was a driving factor for patients to decline care. Just under a quarter of physicians said they don’t know of resources to assist patients under the age of 26 to access PrEP but don’t want their parents to find out because they are still on their insurance.
Only 25% of eligible, HIV-negative people take PrEP, according to reporting from STAT News earlier this year.
The data found that PrEP isn’t a priority for many patients and that adherence is a compounding issue as well. Less than 20% of physicians said patients often proactively asked them for PrEP while 70% said their patients struggled to maintain adherence to the once-a-day medication plan.
Misinformation is another complication in the dynamic as well, with nearly half of physicians reporting that they have heard patients passing along inaccurate information about PrEP.
“HIV is 100% preventable. Education for both providers and patients is critical in making more progress against the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” Dr. Claudia Martorell, a Sermo Medical Advisory Board member and director of The Research Institute, said in a statement.