The scientific community has been conducting a number of studies and tests in the past years to find a cure or at least a treatment to prevent the spread of HIV across the world. In the U.S., an effective treatment is already available in the market but the nation’s HIV epidemic remains persistent.
The federal government reports 40,000 new infections every year. The figure raised concerns among health experts as physicians have already been providing pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, which is considered an effective tool to prevent the spread of the virus among high-risk individuals.
The reason behind could be how physicians receive training to check HIV cases and to prescribe treatment, according to a new study of more than 200 Internal Medicine residents. Researchers found that 96 percent of the participants were aware of the availability of PrEP, but majority of them admitted to having poor knowledge of the medication.
“I think we know now that if we train people, they’ll do it,” Christopher Terndrup, lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine in the OHSU School of Medicine in Portland, Ore., said in a statement. “We just need to make sure that’s happening.”
The findings, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, come from the analysis of data from internal medicine residents at five academic medical centers across the U.S. Researchers suggested that the centers nationwide should improve training to help prevent or slow down the spread of HIV.
“Given the significant need for PrEP, [internal medicine] residents should be trained to achieve adequate knowledge and comfort levels to prescribe it,” the researchers noted in the study.
In their study, the participants who rated their knowledge of the medication showed a greater likelihood of prescribing PrEP to patients in the future. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently issued its draft recommendation encouraging physicians to offer PrEP with effective antiretroviral therapy to people who are at a high risk of acquiring HIV. The decision follows a 2018 report from the CDC that showed an outbreak among a homeless population living in Seattle in the past year.