Legacy Community Health’s PrEP for Women Project
Rockwell Fund, Inc. (RFI) invests in efforts that address disparities in healthcare and health outcomes. One of the investments is, Legacy Community Health’s PrEP for Women Project.
In 2016, although black women accounted for only 13% of the United States’ female population, 60% of new HIV infections among women were in black women. The City of Houston reports that despite increased research, targeted preventive efforts and safe sex education, the incidence of newly diagnosed HIV among black women is 21 times that of white women and 5.8 times that of Hispanic women. Houston is 11th on the list of the 15 US cities with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses. Considering these daunting statistics, RFI is proud to support Texas’ largest Federally Qualified Health Clinic, Legacy Community Health, in addressing the disproportionately high HIV rates among women of color. Legacy believes that by educating women about HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), they can empower women to better control their sexual health and to navigate conversations about sex with their partners in a safe and stigma-free environment.
PrEP is a daily medication that helps decrease risk of contracting HIV, which is spread by sexual contact and weakens the body’s ability to fight infection. The medication interferes with HIV’s ability to grow and take hold in the body once exposed to the virus. Although the medication is highly effective in preventing HIV contraction during sex or injection, Legacy staff observed a low utilization of PrEP among at-risk HIV negative women. In response, Legacy developed its PrEP for Women Project to increase awareness of PrEP and to link PrEP providers with black women in Houston.
Legacy has conducted focus groups across the city to identify and train black women to serve as PrEP Ambassadors, or community educators, who will then identify women from their social networks whom they believe would benefit from learning about PrEP and link them to PrEP services. The project is based in Legacy’s Fifth Ward clinic because that community has a high density of black women and a higher than average HIV contraction rate.
The most recent community health profile conducted in the Fifth Ward revealed that the average annual rate of new HIV cases in zip codes 77026 and 77020 (which include the Greater Fifth Ward) were twice the overall Houston rate of 63.3 per 100,000. Shortly after this profile was created, the City of Houston invited Legacy to open a satellite location on Lyons Avenue where it launched the PrEP for Women Project.
Participants in the PrEP for Women Project will also have access to the comprehensive services available at Legacy’s Fifth Ward Clinic, including behavioral health, family planning and well woman care. Funds from RFI will serve as a seed grant for the Project, but Legacy plans to continue PrEP programming and expansion into its satellite locations and school-based clinics.
RFI is proud to support Legacy’s PrEP for Women Project and ensure that Houston residents have access to the healthcare resources and education they need to maintain an optimal life.
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