SF General Hospital launches hotline for clinicians who prescribe HIV drug

In 1993, San Francisco General Hospital established a first-of-its-kind hotline for clinicians nationwide seeking advice in managing HIV and AIDS treatments.

More than two decades later, the hospital on Monday launched the first phone-based consultation service in the U.S. for health care workers who prescribe PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a medication that can prevent HIV, said Dr. Ron Goldschmidt, a UC San Francisco professor of family and community medicine at General Hospital.

“Our goal is to make sure that PrEP is given appropriately, which means that the right people who need it get it and the people who shouldn't be getting it are not prescribed it erroneously,” Goldschmidt said of the drug, which has the brand name Truvada.

The PrEPline, funded by a $175,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the UCSF Clinician Consultation Center's fourth hotline based in The City for health care workers.

The service is staffed by about 20 physicians, nurse practitioners and clinical pharmacists who provide around 16,000 consultations annually to clinicians throughout the U.S.

PrEP involves taking a pill daily that combines two drugs, tenofovir and emtricitabine, to prevent HIV infection in adults at high risk. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

HIV-prevention medication has been making headlines in San Francisco in recent weeks. This month, Supervisor Scott Wiener announced in an online essay that he uses the medication, and the Budget and Finance Committee on Oct. 22 will hear Supervisor David Campos' $800,000 funding request to establish a PrEP subsidy program to help pay for residents to access the drug.

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