The Detroit Public Health Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic hosted by the Wayne State University School of Medicine and Wayne State University Physician Group won the Outstanding Achievement in HIV Prevention Award at the 2017 Michigan HIV and STD conference, held last month in Ann Arbor.
The statewide honor is a nod to the clinic's successful Pre-exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP, program. PrEP is a daily pill taken to lower the chances of getting infected with HIV. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout the body, and is highly effective for preventing HIV when used as prescribed, reducing the risk by more than 90 percent, said Clinical Operations Manager Jennifer Mahn, M.P.A.
The annual conference was hosted by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, with help from the Michigan Public Health Institute, and was held at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest hotel and banquet center Aug. 8-9.
"We were very surprised because we were not aware anyone nominated us," Mahn said.
The clinic, located at 50 E. Canfield in Detroit, also provides screening, diagnosis, treatment and prevention services on a walk-in basis or by appointment.
In addition to Mahn, School of Medicine alumna Liz Hacker, M.P.H. '15, the clinic's PrEP coordinator, Marquetta Norwood, N.P., and HIV Prevention Counselor Chris Sutton attended and accepted the award.
"Being recognized for outstanding achievement in HIV prevention is an incredible honor for us. The epidemic continues to disproportionately affect the city of Detroit, and our collaborative team of providers and staff is on the front lines of mitigating this trend. We are grateful to MDHHS and Wayne State University for their enthusiastic support of our clinic and in establishing an innovative, patient-centered model for public health clinics throughout the state and beyond," Mahn said. "We are the first and only walk-in, same-day PrEP clinic in the state of Michigan and also are the only clinic with a full-time staff member completely dedicated to PrEP."
Hacker, Mahn said, "has been instrumental in building this incredible program."
Since the program's inception in July 2016, 167 patients have started PrEP, 87 of those since Hacker joined the team in March. Clinic Medical Director Christine Heumann, M.D., wrote the MDHHS PrEP guidelines that have been disseminated through the state and beyond. In addition, various community partners have shadowed at the clinic to learn more about the PrEP program and how to set up similar programs at clinics throughout the state.
"Our clinic helps patients regardless of their ability to pay - no one ever receives a bill from our clinic - and we have a full-time financial counselor on site who can help enroll patients into Medicaid or the exchange if they are uninsured. Our staff also assists patients in navigating prescription assistance programs for PrEP before they leave the clinic," Mahn added.
Hacker coordinates Dr. Heumann's National Institutes of Health-funded study, "Implementation and Evaluation of PrEP in Detroit," a public health Center for AIDS Research collaboration. The study evaluates how well the Detroit Public Health STD Clinic provides PrEP to interested patients.
"We hope to learn more about the characteristics of patients who are prescribed PrEP and to determine how many patients who are prescribed PrEP fill their prescriptions and come to follow-up appointments. For those who do not continue on PrEP, we are interested in learning more about why they did not continue the medication or come to follow- up appointments. We hope to use this information to better understand which patients need more support services to assist them in starting PrEP and staying on PrEP. We also hope this study will help other clinics to successfully provide PrEP to their patients," Mahn said.