By John Kaliabakos
As part of their ongoing efforts to reduce the number of new HIV cases, the New York State Department of Health and the AIDS Institute have launched a new program: Pharmacy Emergency Post-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention (PEP 4 HIV PREVENTION). The Department of Health has enlisted a select few pharmacies throughout the state of New York to participate in this pilot program.
New regulations allow specially trained pharmacists in partnership with licensed prescribers to dispense a seven-day supply of HIV post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) medications to individuals who inform the pharmacy of a recent potential exposure to HIV. PEP is a highly effective intervention but must be initiated as soon as possible after exposure, preferably within 72 hours. A patient who believes that they may have been exposed to HIV can go to any community pharmacy that is participating in this program and obtain an assessment, receive the initial seven-day supply of an approved antiviral regimen, and also receive counseling and a referral to a healthcare provider to be seen within one to three days. The provider will offer HIV testing and decide whether the patient should complete the full recommended 28 days of PEP. The patient will also be assessed for the risk of Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.
The pharmacy is also responsible for maintaining contact with the patient, after seven days, to verify that they have completed the seven-day PEP regimen and have followed up with their healthcare provider to determine whether any further drug therapy will be required.
Village Apothecary is proud to be a part of this very important pilot program. The pharmacy has been on the frontlines in the fight against HIV/AIDS for over 35 years and embraces the opportunity to participate in this program with the goal of significantly reducing the number of new HIV cases in the community.
John Kaliabakos is a pharmacist at Village Apothecary.