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Portland, OR: Northwest primary care clinic Grain Integrative Health now offers PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) in the safe environment of the southeast Portland, Oregon clinic. The medication Truvada, known commonly as PrEP, is a once a day pill that has been clinically proven to reduce the transmission of HIV infections in incidents of unprotected sex. The clinic plans to make it even more comfortable for 50-something women newly back on the dating scene to obtain access to PrEP against HIV. HIV is on the rise in two demographics, individuals between the ages of 13-24 and women over 50 years old.
The increase in middle-aged women is particularly of concern as doctors and patients are unaware of the increase nation-wide and there has been little research into how to disseminate the information. Grain Integrative Health owner, Dr. Lindsay Baum, plans to help this information become a normal part of the clinical conversation with patients through her own practice and those of her colleagues.
Women and men over 50 aren’t concerned about pregnancy and often new on the dating scene due to divorce and other life events, and so they are also less likely to talk to a health care provider about safe sex. Dr. Lindsay Baum notes, “The rise in syphilis and HIV in the middle-aged female patient population is highly concerning. The medical community needs to do a better job of having conversations with patients in regards to their sex lives. We need to encourage our patients to protect themselves before an exposure. Sometimes protection should be amplified beyond condoms and PrEP should be a first line therapy.” PrEP does not reduce the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV.
Patients who practice polyamory, a lifestyle of having multiple sexual partners, need doctors who can help them protect themselves. Dr. Lindsay Baum hopes the way the doctors at Grain Integrative Health are trained to address sexuality will help prevent the spread of HIV and syphilis in Oregon and beyond. She encourages patients who believe they may be at risk for HIV or another sexually transmitted illness to sit with a provider at Grain Integrative Health who can discuss whether PrEP or other measures are most appropriate.
Dr. Lindsay Baum notes, “PrEP isn’t for everyone, it can have health risks just like any medication. Access to medication should be monitored and assessed by a provider who understands how to protect an individual’s health while using the medication; or other options may be discussed during a patient’s visit.”