Thompson is founder and principal investigator of the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta (ARCA).
"The first challenge to accessing PrEP is knowing what PrEP is. We are beginning to see more awareness of PrEP. There also is a lot of stigma, still, associated with PrEP. And that is important to really combat.
"Educating health providers is really important, because we're often the worst enemy. There are many stories of people going in to emergency rooms and being on PrEP; and then people are stigmatized because doctors say, 'You have HIV.' Or they feel that being on PrEP means that you're doing things that they disapprove of. And so there is a moral stigma that is associated with PrEP. We really need to educate our health providers to try to remove that stigma.
"Then there's the financial barrier. In truth, most insurance is paying for PrEP. Unfortunately, PrEP, in the form of tenofovir/emtricitabine (Truvada), often is on the highest tier, just as it is for HIV. So even though copay cards work for people who have insurance, there still can be barriers -- particularly in meeting deductibles, and so on. So it's not only getting access to the drugs; it's consistent access to the drugs. For people who can get drugs free from the manufacturer, there's a challenge in getting lab work, and having provider visits paid for."
(Credit: Positively Aware magazine)