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The case for prescribing PrEP in community mental health settings

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Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a biomedical HIV prevention modality that is up to 99% effective in preventing HIV acquisition through sex if taken as directed. People with serious mental illness (eg, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) are at high risk of acquiring HIV due to sexual behaviours, injection drug use, social factors, and structural discrimination that limits access to all types of preventive health services. We seek to show the importance of prioritising access to PrEP for people living with serious mental illness treated in community mental health settings. We describe barriers to prescribing PrEP, including provider attitudes and provider knowledge gaps, patient attitudes and knowledge, and systems issues. We also address the concerns that community mental health clinic administrators might have about taking on the responsibility of offering PrEP. In summary, despite the barriers to prescribing PrEP in these settings, we believe that there is a unique opportunity for community mental health settings to help address the HIV epidemic by facilitating the prescribing of PrEP to the at-risk populations they currently serve.

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