April 7, 2015
The Cook County Health & Hospitals System’s (CCHHS) Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center is launching a new clinic to fight AIDS by preventing HIV infections. The new clinic will provide an HIV-preventive medication, HIV PreExposure Prophylaxis or PrEP, to people with high risk of becoming infected with HIV. When taken daily, PrEP (brand name Truvada), has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by up to 92 percent.
“PrEP is a relatively new preventive intervention that we can use to protect the health of individuals and the public in our fight against HIV/AIDS,” said Dr. Dave Barker, Medical Director of the CORE Center. “This medication is widely used to treat HIV, but few physicians are aware of its use for prevention. We want to increase access to PrEP to help reduce the transmission of HIV in the communities we serve.”
PrEP is not widely available in most areas. The CORE Center is only the second health center in the Chicago region to offer a PrEP program.
To determine eligibility for PrEP, the clinic’s staff will assess an interested patient’s risk of contracting HIV, their overall health status and other factors, including their likelihood of adhering to a daily medication regimen. Patients who receive PrEP must be reassessed every three months.
Commercial insurance plans cover the cost of PrEP prescriptions. CORE Center staff will help individuals without insurance navigate the manufacturer’s assistance program to obtain their medication. CORE staff will also enroll uninsured patients in CCHHS sliding fee scale program (Carelink) to decrease medical bills for those who qualify.
The CORE Center is able to launch this clinic thanks in large part due to a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the City of Chicago Department of Public Health that allowed the health center to hire three new staff members for the PrEP clinic. PrEP is an important part of the national HIV/AIDS strategy.
People who want to learn more about PrEP can call the CORE Center at (312) 572-4500 to schedule an appointment with a health educator.