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Resource Spotlight: How to Improve Gay Men’s Sexual Health

, by San Francisco AIDS Foundation

To even begin to talk about new HIV prevention tools like PrEP, providers and clients must also be able to talk about sexual health. But we know from research and personal experience that even basic conversations around sexual health aren’t happening consistently.

How do we improve how providers and clients talk about gay men’s sexual health, HIV prevention, and pre-exposure prophylaxis?  And more specifically, what opportunity does PrEP offer to advance conversations between providers and clients around gay men’s sexual health?

Think tank participants

Think tank participants at San Francisco AIDS Foundation

These are questions San Francisco AIDS Foundation posed to more than 20 of the country’s thought leaders and experts in HIV and gay men’s sexual health at a think tank meeting held in San Francisco in December 2013.

“Having infectious disease specialists, community service providers, public health officials, government representatives, researchers, and HIV prevention research advocates all at the same table was invaluable to discussing the future of gay men’s sexual health,” said Judy Auerbach, senior advisor to San Francisco AIDS Foundation and think-tank facilitator.

The report summarizing the findings and recommendations from that meeting was released today. Read the report for:

  • Rectal microbicide advocate Jim Pickett’s take on how we can better message around PrEP to provide accurate information to providers and potential PrEP users, and empower gay and bi men to advocate for their own sexual health.
  • A perspective from Dawn Smith of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what we can learn from other health fields to support providers in helping their clients adhere to PrEP.
  • “Best practices” from Fenway Health, Boston’s system of community health centers, which integrates technology and a team-based approach with flexible scheduling to deliver sexual health care services in a patient-centered medical home.
  • Findings on where San Francisco Bay Area gay and bi men prefer to access sexual health services—and what those preferences mean for delivering PrEP to men who may need it most.

“Through education, empowerment, and mobilization, gay men can take back the pleasure, intimacy, connection, emotion, and love that their sexual health agenda historically has been denied,” the report states.

The think-tank report can be downloaded here, and a press release is excerpted below and available in full at SFAF.org.

Megan Canon, MPH, is the social marketing manager for San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the founder of PrEPfacts.org.

Report Highlights Recommendations to Improve Gay and Bisexual Men’s Sexual Health

San Francisco, February 25, 2014—As HIV research and prevention tools advance, there remains a critical information gap between health care providers and gay and bisexual men who could benefit most from those new tools. A new report released today by San Francisco AIDS Foundation identifies key steps to eliminate the gap and foster better relationships and communications between providers and clients.

“We now have more tools than ever before at our disposal to radically reduce new HIV infections, particularly among gay and bisexual men, yet we need to make sure more men are learning about these tools so they can make the most informed decisions possible about their sexual health,” said Neil Giuliano, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “To help advance those efforts, we brought together many of the nation’s leading HIV experts to talk about how best to improve gay and bi men’s health and their health literacy.”

The foundation held a two-day think tank meeting in December 2013 to develop recommendations to improve provider-client communications for gay and bisexual men, especially within the context of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Attendees included representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Fenway Health, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, San Francisco Department of Public Health, amfAR, and others.

The meeting created the following recommendations:

  • Since the majority of HIV-negative gay and bi men are less likely to seek sexual health care services from their primary care doctor, there is a need to explore other community health settings for PrEP delivery.
  • More targeted outreach efforts are needed to educate and empower men to advocate for their own access to PrEP from their medical providers.
  • Because medical providers have limited time with clients in individual visits, they need simplified messages for discussing PrEP and simple tools for quickly completing a PrEP risk assessment.
  • Providers need more support with regard to PrEP delivery, such as screening tools, final PrEP guidelines from the CDC, and PrEP-specific billing reimbursement codes.
  • Advocates need to work together to shift the national paradigm of PrEP messaging and change current misconceptions and pessimistic attitudes.
  • More influential medical organizations and other normative bodies, such the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, HIV Medical Association, American Academy of Family Medicine, National Association of Community Health Centers, and other non-HIV professional associations, need to determine and endorse a standard of care for PrEP….

Click here to read the full press release, and download the full report at SFAF.org.


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