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Discussion and Initiation of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Were Rare Following Diagnoses of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Veterans.

Kobayashi T, Van Epps P, Maier MM, Beste LA, Beck BF, Alexander B, Ohl ME. Discussion and Initiation of HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis Were Rare Following Diagnoses of Sexually Transmitted Infections Among Veterans. Journal of general internal medicine. 2022 Aug 1; 37(10):2482-2488.

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BACKGROUND: Healthcare encounters for the diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common and represent an opportunity to discuss and initiate HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Little is known about how frequently PrEP is discussed and initiated in association with encounters for STIs. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort and nested case-control study, matched by STI date, in national Veterans Health Administration (VHA) facilities  from January 2013 to December 2018. PARTICIPANTS: Veterans with a first STI diagnosis (i.e., early syphilis, gonorrhea, or chlamydia) based on ICD codes, excluding those with prior HIV diagnosis, prior PrEP use, or STI diagnosed on screening during a visit to initiate PrEP. MAIN MEASURES: Frequency of PrEP initiation within 90 days of healthcare encounter for STIs. In the case-control study, we performed a structured chart review from the initial STI-related clinical encounter and quantified frequency of PrEP discussions among matched patients who did and did not initiate PrEP in the following 90 days. KEY RESULTS: We identified 23,312 patients with a first STI, of whom 90 (0.4%) started PrEP within 90 days. PrEP initiation was associated with urban residence (OR = 5.0, 95% CI 1.8-13.5), White compared to Black race (OR = 1.7, 95% CI 1.0-2.7), and syphilis diagnosis (OR = 5.7, 95% CI 3.7-8.6). Chart review revealed that discussion of PrEP was rare among people with STIs who did not subsequently start PrEP (1.1%, 95% CI 0.1-4.0). PrEP initiation was associated with documentation of sexual history (80.0% of initiators vs. 51.0% of non-initiators, p < 0.01) and discussion of PrEP (52.2% vs. 1.1%, p < 0.01) during the initial STI diagnosis encounter. CONCLUSIONS: Discussion and initiation of PrEP were rare following healthcare encounters for STIs. Interventions are needed to improve low rates of sexual history-taking and discussion of PrEP during healthcare encounters for STIs.

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