Pharmacists must take time to understand why patients are not adherent to HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and what barriers exist, said Kevin N. Astle, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, AAHIVP, CDES, assistant professor at the University of South Florida Taneja College of Pharmacy.
Kevin N. Astle, PharmD, BCPS, BCACP, AAHIVP, CDES, assistant professor at the University of South Florida Taneja College of Pharmacy, talks about the pharmacist's role in educating patients on HIV risk and promoting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) adherence.
What is the pharmacist’s role in making PrEP therapies available to people at high risk of contracting HIV?
The biggest role that pharmacists can have is educating patients about their risk level. I think right now there's a big community-wide knowledge gap about what the risk factors are and who would benefit from PrEP, so as pharmacists, we can be patient facing, we can do a lot of education within the community. We're also seeing a lot of states are passing collaborative practice agreements and PrEP protocols for pharmacists to be able to prescribe PrEP and continue therapy for patients. So I think really expanding access where possible.
What is their role in promoting adherence?
Very similar. As pharmacists, we're able to see what prescriptions patients are filling, how often they're coming in to get their refills. So, [we're] really able to help keep patients on track with their medications, identifying any gaps. We can reach out and understand where the nonadherence comes from. I think that's a big concern. We learn that adherence is an issue, and a lot of times we'll just label the patient is either nonadherent or they're not taking their medicine. We need to take the time to understand why they're not taking their medications and what barriers there are. I think pharmacists are really instrumental in that role.