Methods: To guide the design and implementation of a pilot PrEP tele-navigation program, we conducted a survey in at-risk clients contacted through social networks and at a state-funded STI clinic in New Hampshire. Approximately nine months after the launch of the navigation platform, we analyzed characteristics of client-navigator interactions. Feedback surveys were distributed to clients 3 months following engagement with the navigator.
Results: From July 2017 to April 2018, 139 individuals engaged the navigator program via email, text, chat, phone call, or in-person. Among the most common services provided were PrEP counseling (n=63 or 45% of inquiries), referral to STI/HIV testing (22%), and risk reduction counseling (19%). Eight clients have been linked to PrEP care to-date. Qualitative analysis of client-navigator interactions revealed a variety of recurring barriers expressed by clients including concerns maintaining confidentiality with parents and partners, side effects of PrEP, and financial constraints. Clients provided suggestions for program improvement and indicated they felt engagement with the program increased knowledge of PrEP as well as linkage to testing and HIV prevention services.
Conclusion: Our pilot program highlighted the diverse obstacles to PrEP utilization in at-risk rural clients, and suggests at-distance PrEP navigation and telemedicine can support improved PrEP utilization in the rural United States. Such a navigator program should be equipped to engage clients along the PrEP care continuum.
S. Padullaparti, None
E. Eccles, None
T. Lahey, None