September 1, 2021

New Report on COVID-19’s Impact on PrEP, PEP and Sexual Health Care

The National Coalition of STD Directors (NCSD) in collaboration with NASTAD, released a report on the impact of COVID-19 on PrEP, PEP, and broader sexual health care. The report finds that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the sexual health workforce was pulled into COVID-19 detail, causing significant service disruptions. Here are a few of the report’s highlights:

  • Sexual health programs implemented harm reduction practices to mitigate COVID-19 risks when serving clients. Sexual health clinics have played a crucial role in mitigating the COVID-19 pandemic by using their specialized resources and infrastructure, including Disease Intervention Specialists and contact tracers. However, there are concerns that COVID-19 will lead to the closing of sexual health clinics and interruption of services due to staff and resources diversion.
  • PrEP and PEP programs were impacted across the care continuum, from awareness to adherence. As sexual health clinics reported clinic closures, reduced clinic hours and services, STD testing kit shortages, and diminished laboratory capacity, the initiation and retention of PrEP patients, as well as access to PEP, was disrupted throughout this past year. Another challenge impacting PrEP/PEP is the pandemic’s impact on unemployment, triggering a loss in health insurance and an added barrier for paying for PrEP/PEP services and prescriptions.
  • Jurisdictions are tasked with ending an epidemic during a pandemic. Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative goals may be affected due to the challenges COVID-19 has had on the health care system.
  • TelePrEP programs can significantly increase PrEP access during COVID-19 and beyond. HIV/ STD self-testing programs can help individuals complete their routine PrEP screenings, reducing barriers for clients.

Readers can view the full report HERE.

View the latest Policy Update here.