OneWorld provides HIV preventative care to fight health injustices
In the world of sickness and disease, treatment can bring hope and healing. PrEP, a medication taken to avoid the acquisition of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, takes hope and healing and turns them into prevention.
“Taking PrEP can basically eliminate someone’s risk for acquiring HIV if it’s taken faithfully,” said Dr. Alex Dworak, OneWorld Family Medicine Physician. “While there are incredible treatments for HIV, not having HIV is always better than having HIV.”
HIV is an infection that attacks the body’s immune system. Despite the existence of preventative medications such as PrEP, this epidemic infiltrates the lives of countless individuals particularly those in minority and underserved communities.
“Gay men and other individuals who have sex with men are at a higher risk of acquiring HIV,” said Dr. Dworak. “It is also a long-standing phenomenon that transgender women, especially transgender women of color, have some of the highest rates of HIV acquisition because of societal discrimination.”
To help break down access barriers for these vulnerable populations, many OneWorld clinicians and clinical pharmacists are trained and able to prescribe PrEP. If any patient asks about PrEP, they are referred to a clinician who is educated about the medication at OneWorld.
The cost of medication is another common barrier for patients. The OneWorld Pharmacy uses a program to get medications at lower costs and assists eligible, uninsured patients with applications for medication assistance programs.
“Providing access signifies that OneWorld really means it when we say that we are advocates and a partner with all aspects of our community, particularly the LGBTQIA+ community,” said Dr. Dworak. “It’s a visible signal to the queer community and the straight community that we have taken the time to educate ourselves and that we do not judge. That can be very welcoming, especially with the mounting political attacks against the queer community.”
Before taking PrEP, patients are screened for HIV. OneWorld patients taking PrEP must adhere to the medication regiment and regular blood draws while on the medication.
“We screen patients every three months while on PrEP for HIV,” said Jessica Downes, PharmD, Clinical Pharmacist. “We assess patient’s exposures during that time frame and recommend Sexually Transmitted Infection screening for them as well if they’ve been sexually active.”
HIV and STI testing are available for every OneWorld patient. The CDC recommends everyone between the ages 16-65 be tested for HIV and Hepatitis C at least once.
OneWorld recommends testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia to anyone between ages 15-25 due to Omaha’s history of those high STI rates. Syphilis testing is also available as well as Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B testing and vaccines.
“Whether the risk may come from injection, sex or both, OneWorld is not judgmental and engages in harm-reduction strategies,” said Dr. Dworak. “We’re here to help people be healthy, to answer their questions and support them. There are many disparities and injustices around HIV and STIs, and OneWorld is here to be part of the solution and the fight against them.”
At OneWorld, We Care for All People.