In 2014, nearly a quarter of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States were among young people aged 13-24. Young people, particularly those in marginalized communities, face unique challenges when it comes to HIV and AIDS, and National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day is an opportunity to talk about what we can do to improve health care services for at-risk youth.
One of the biggest recent developments in HIV prevention is Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP): a daily medication that is highly effective in preventing HIV infection. But because PrEP is relatively new, many physicians haven’t been trained in providing it – particularly to young patients. That’s why we’re excited to join with Dr. Vinny Chulani, an active faculty member in Physicians for Reproductive Health’s Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Program (ARSHEP) and a leading advocate for youth sexual and reproductive health, in marking National Youth HIV & AIDS Awareness Day with two announcements on how we’re working to take on the challenge of youth HIV.
Dr. Chulani is an adolescent medicine specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital. His work with homeless, LGBT, and commercially sexually exploited youth, who are particularly at risk for HIV, has made him deeply aware of the urgent need for HIV prevention services for young people in the local community. Today, Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Section of Adolescent Medicine and Bill Holt Clinic HIV programs are announcing Phoenix PrEP Access Project, a new HIV PrEP service to provide at-risk youth with access to the preventive medication that will dramatically reduce their risk for HIV.
Physicians for Reproductive Health has also chosen this day to release the newest module in our ARSHEP curriculum, HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Adolescents, created in collaboration with Dr. Chulani as well as with the New York Promoting and Advancing Teen Health project at Columbia University. In this module, we’ve provided an overview of what PrEP is, how to determine when a patient is a good candidate to use it, and additional resources for more information on HIV and PrEP. We hope this module will help medical professionals who care for young people to add PrEP to their practice.