EHE Success Story: Expanding TelePrEP in EHE Jurisdictions Through Online Learning and Collaboration
Expanding access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) – which reduces the chances of getting HIV from sex by about 99% – is critical to the success of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. As a CDC-funded national technical assistance provider, NASTAD works to address persistent structural and social barriers to accessing and using PrEP and related HIV prevention services.
In 2020-2021, COVID-19-related disruptions to in-person healthcare services made it even more challenging to get or stay on PrEP. Many clinics and HIV prevention providers felt increased urgency to ensure continued access to PrEP and other critical services. As telehealth became more mainstream, healthcare providers like the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, Indiana’s Damien Center, and others considered how to integrate this innovative technology into their health services.
To fill gaps in PrEP access and uptake, NASTAD used EHE funding to help EHE jurisdictions design, implement, and expand successful telePrEP programs. These telePrEP programs were tailored to each jurisdiction’s needs, addressing geography and transportation challenges, the need for regular in-person doctor visits and lab testing, HIV-related stigma, and other barriers.
Strategies for Bridging Gaps in PrEP Access During the Height of COVID-19
- Providing tailored telePrEP technical assistance:
In 2020, NASTAD launched the TelePrEP Learning Collaborative, a live, virtual learning community for staff in EHE jurisdictions developing telePrEP programs to share challenges and lessons learned. As part of the collaborative, jurisdiction staff could seek specialized technical and capacity building assistance tailored to their programs’ unique needs. Participants saw their telePrEP services strengthened or expanded, including key successes in Philadelphia, PA and Marion County, IN.
- Creating an online learning hub:
Building on the success of its live program, NASTAD created the TelePrEP Online Learning Series. This platform grants all EHE jurisdictions access to regularly updated PrEP resources. Topics include PrEP financing; PrEP promotion; minor consent and confidentiality; discussing PrEP generics with patients; community engagement; and ensuring telePrEP programs advance health equity. Staff in jurisdictions across the country can review materials that are most relevant for their specific programs and do so on their own schedules.
- Supporting ongoing peer-to-peer learning:
The TelePrEP Learning Collaborative led to new and enduring participant relationships with each other and with NASTAD. These relationships will enable jurisdictions to share and implement best practices as they design and roll out telePrEP and other innovative services to expand PrEP access. NASTAD continues to send newsletters with new resources and PrEP access updates. NASTAD also holds routine virtual office hours to support ongoing peer-to-peer learning and help participants respond to an ever-evolving PrEP landscape.