3 Ways to Increase PrEP Compliance for Gen Z College Students

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

3 Ways to Increase PrEP Compliance for Gen Z College Students

Ash Team

Student Health services face unique challenges in providing care for sexually active Gen Z student populations. The Department of Health and Human Services reports men's condom use declined from 75% in 2011 to 42% in 2021, and this decrease is especially stark in younger generations. Half of all new STI infections are among 15-to-24-year-olds. 

Student Health services can help protect Gen Z students from HIV and STIs with expanded care offerings for the drugs PrEP and DoxyPEP. PrEP requires ongoing adherence testing for creatinine levels and HIV status, so some students may be reluctant to use it long term. Here are three easy ways to increase overall PrEP use and compliance in Gen Z student populations. 

1. Utilize telehealth services for sexual wellness 

Many members of Gen Z prefer the convenience of telehealth over in-person care, with 44% of Gen Z and millennials saying they may switch providers who discontinue telehealth visits. Though stigma surrounding sexual wellness or sexuality may be less intense than with previous generations — more than half of Gen Z gay or bisexual teenage boys are out to their parents, for example — some still prefer the comfort of the dorm room when discussing sensitive subjects such as birth control, STI testing, and PrEP use. Student health providers should offer tele-video or phone sessions in addition to in-person care options to reach more college patients interested in discussing their sexual health.  

2. Help students complete medication maintenance with at-home testing

While telehealth services enable providers to reach and support students, PrEP in particular requires routine screening as part of medication maintenance. In the past, patients with a PrEP prescription would have to attend in-person phlebotomy appointments at a clinic once per quarter to submit blood samples for screening. Dried Blood Spot testing makes it possible for providers to mail an at-home test kit to a student in a dorm, and that patient submit the self-collected blood sample on a special filter paper. A lab technician analyzes these samples so students can stay on PrEP long-term without a tedious in-person blood draw. Providers can contact students with a reactive HIV result and bring them in for confirmatory testing. 

Chat with Ash Wellness about onboarding at-home PrEP testing for college students. 

3. Destigmatize PrEP outside LGBTQ+ communities 

PrEP is often prescribed for men who have sex with men since they are traditionally at-risk for HIV, but PrEP is also beneficial for other patient demographics. Women and other AFAB people who have receptive vaginal sex can use Truvada pills or Apretude shots to protect against HIV exposure. PrEP also reduces the risk of getting HIV from injection drugs use by at least 74%. Providers in Student Health should work to destigmatize PrEP use for those who do not traditionally engage with it, but who could benefit, such as those with addiction diseases and heterosexual women.

How can Ash Wellness help? 

Ash Wellness works with Student Health services across the country to support at-home diagnostic testing for PrEP maintenance and STI screening. We support the largest use case for PrEP prescription and adherence in the United States, processing over 10,000 HIV and creatinine test kits per month. Our infrastructure for remote testing allows Student Health clients to usher patients through a full remote telehealth cycle, which is particularly useful to screen hard-to-reach and vulnerable patient demographics.

PrEP prescriptions have increased 73% in the United States since 2012, but only two in five patients remain on PrEP over a two year period with traditional in-person appointments and testing. When Student Health services prioritize telehealth, at-home testing through DBS cards, and destigmatizing PrEP use for patient populations beyond LGBTQ+ individuals, providers can increase PrEP intake and compliance on college campuses.

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