The United States has been in a state of emergency concerning the COVID-19 global pandemic since March 2020. With the country responding to the pandemic for over a year, the National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD), in collaboration with NASTAD, examines the impact COVID-19 has had on PrEP/PEP and sexual health services, particularly in the South.
Throughout the nation’s response to the pandemic, sexual health programs were uniquely impacted.
Much of the sexual health workforce was pulled into COVID-19 detail, causing significant service disruptions.
Sexual health programs implemented harm reduction practices to mitigate COVID-19 risks when serving clients.
PrEP and PEP programs were impacted across the care continuum, from awareness to adherence. Jurisdictions are tasked with ending an epidemic during a pandemic. Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) goals may be affected due to the challenges COVID-19 has had on the health care system.
As jurisdictions continue addressing both the HIV epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic, the following recommendations can improve PrEP/ PEP access during this time.
TelePrEP programs can significantly increase PrEP access during COVID-19 and beyond. Many jurisdictions are working to implement telePrEP programs to assist with client’s PrEP maintenance, and initiation to PrEP.
HIV/ STD self-testing programs can help individuals complete their routine PrEP screenings, reducing
barriers for clients.