This article discusses the July 13 meeting of the South Florida AIDS Network (SFAN). SFAN is the advisory body for the Ryan White Care (RWC) program of the Florida Department of Health in Broward.
Reflecting current efforts to integrate HIV prevention with HIV treatment, this SFAN meeting primarily discussed Florida’s program to make PrEP available in all 67 of its counties.
The Statewide PrEP Program
Mara Michniewicz, Fl-DOH Bureau of HIV/AIDS, phoned into SFAN from Tallahassee. She discussed progress in Florida's efforts to make PrEP available in all of its 67 counties. Florida is using its Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) clinics to identify people at high risk and to offer them PrEP.
As of July 2, 2018, 57 percent of Florida's counties are providing PrEP. About 1,200 clients have received PrEP through County Health Clinics. In addition, 28 percent of Florida’s counties are providing Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) in Emergency Rooms. PEP works as a kind of "morning after pill" to prevent HIV acquisition. About 60 people in Florida have received PEP.
In 2017, more newly diagnosed HIV cases occurred among Blacks in Florida than in any other racial group. This indicates that PrEP could help Florida’s Black population. County health data, however, shows that fewer Blacks are taking PrEP compared with other racial groups.
The Broward PrEP Program
In Broward, the County Health Department does not operate an STI clinic. Instead, it has a contract with AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) to run an STI clinic, The Wellness Center. Robert Parisi of AHF reported on Broward’s PrEP program at The Wellness Center.
Patients in an STI clinic, like The Wellness Center, may be at high risk for acquiring HIV. If a patient has an interest in PrEP, the staff at The Wellness Center will discuss PrEP with them. If the staff determines a patient has high risk for HIV, they will discuss PrEP with them. If a patient decides to start PrEP, they can leave the Center with a 10-day supply for PrEP. Patients with labs indicating good liver and kidney function will get a three-month prescription for PrEP.
The Patient Assistance Program will cover costs for patients without insurance. Patients with private insurance will receive a “copay assist card” to help with their copays.
From June 1, 2018 to July 18, 2018, the Wellness Center has given 309 people access to PrEP. Gay and bi men make up about 88 percent of these 309 PrEP users.
Parisi reported that three groups at risk for HIV have less interest in PrEP than others have. Straight people, transgender people, and sex workers have lower rates of PrEP uptake. He suggested that sex workers may be concerned about running into their clients at an STI clinics.
SFAN elects its representatives to the Florida Comprehensive Planning Network (FCPN) every two years. The FCPN represents the entire state. It advises the Florida Department of Health about the RWC program. Kim Saiswick of Holy Cross Hospital has represented SFAN on this body. Joey Wynn, Chair of SFAN has served as the alternate. SFAN re-elected them as its representatives.
Lynn Albertelli of ViiV Heatthcare announced that ViiV will host an event at ArtServe about HIV treatment on August 2, 2018 at 6:00 p.m. Food will be provided. To reserve a spot, RSVP at HIVevent.com or call 1-844-573-7024. ArtServe is located at 1350 East Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale.
The Wellness Center is located at 750 SE 3rd Ave., Suite 100, Fort Lauderdale.
Next SFAN Meeting: Friday, August 3, 2018 at 10 a.m., at the Holy Cross Healthplex, 1000 NE 56th Street, Ft. Lauderdale. SFAN welcomes newcomers.
Follow Sean McShee on Twitter @SeanMcShee