PrEP Use May Increase Uptake of Non HIV-Related Primary Care

A new study suggests that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) could also serve as a gateway to primary care services.

This article originally appeared on Contagion.

It has been well known that the use of a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) pill taken on a daily basis is effective in the prevention of HIV infections, but a new study suggests that PrEP could also serve as a gateway to primary care services.

The new data published in

American Journal of Public Health

was gleaned from a cross-sectional study of potential PrEP candidates in a community health clinic in Boston, Massachusetts, from 2012 to 2016. The researcher team, comprised of members from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Harvard Medical School, The Fenway Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), compared the proportion of PrEP users and non-PrEP users who were also receiving primary care.

Overall, the researchers found that PrEP users were more likely to receive certain vaccines, undergo screening for specific diseases, and receive more mental health screening.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to identify an association between PrEP use and receipt of primary care,” said the study’s lead author Julia L. Marcus, PhD, MPH, assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, and adjunct faculty at The Fenway Institute, in a recent statement. “Although this was a cross-sectional study, which limits our ability to draw conclusions about causation, our results suggest that the benefits of PrEP may extend to behavioral health, mental health, and the prevention and treatment of other infectious and chronic diseases.”

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