SILVER SPRING, Md. — The American College Health Association (ACHA) announced the release of its new guidelines, “HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis.” Developed by the ACHA PrEP in College Health Task Force, these guidelines serve as a roadmap for college health services seeking to provide HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as a means of preventing new HIV infections and as a resource to assist with front line implementation.
While HIV rates have recently decreased among the general population, HIV remains a serious issue for young adults. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young adults ages 13–24 accounted for 21 percent of new HIV infections in the U.S. in 2016 — 4 out of 5 were aged between 20 and 24 years old. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, PrEP can reduce the risk of HIV infection by over 90 percent if taken daily as prescribed.
“ACHA believes the ongoing HIV epidemic is an urgent health priority and that college health centers can make a significant impact in the health of young adults by offering PrEP as a standard health care service,” said Devin Jopp, Ed.D., ACHA’s chief executive officer. “College health services are uniquely positioned to implement comprehensive, evidenced-based prevention strategies that can help end the HIV epidemic among young adults.”
Obtaining actionable recommendations for offering PrEP at college health centers was often a daunting experience for college health providers — the availability of staffing, financial assistance and administrative support varies greatly from campus to campus and even more so compared to other clinical settings. The ACHA “HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis” guidelines offer a solution to this challenge by using streamlined messaging to focus specifically on what is relevant to the college health subset and by including simple, actionable recommendations that can be implemented in both small campus health services and in large, robust college health programs.
“Sexual health issues are a large component of young adult medical care,” says Margaret Higham, M.D., chair of the ACHA PrEP in College Health Task Force. “Our hope in creating the guidelines was to make it clear that offering HIV PrEP is an absolutely manageable service for any college health provider.”
“HIV PrEP is an approved preventive medical care that is well within the scope of clinical providers in college health settings,” says Stephanie Hanenberg, MSN, FNP-C, president of ACHA. “With PrEP, college health providers can make a dramatic contribution to the current and long-term health and well-being of their students, especially those who are marginalized and have the highest risk of acquiring HIV.”