Ochsner Offers HIV PrEP Services Uptown

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NEW ORLEANS – According to recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports, more than half of the new HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) diagnoses in 2017 were in the southern region of the United States. Louisiana is ranked fourth in the nation for highest HIV case rates and New Orleans is fourth in the nation for number of HIV case rates among the large metropolitan areas in the nation.

Ochsner Health System is making preventative HIV treatment more accessible by offering HIV PrEP services at Ochsner Health Center – Tchoupitoulas (5300 Tchoupitoulas Street, formerly the Walgreens space in the Riverside Market shopping center). The services are confidential and available by appointment.

Details were shared in a press release.

“Louisiana faces significant challenges when it comes to sexually transmitted infections and there is a strong need in our community for expanded sexual health services,” said Christopher Garnett, MD, primary care physician, Ochsner Health System. “We aim to promote the sexual wellbeing of Ochsner patients in an environment that is comfortable and affirming to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities and others with unmet sexual health needs.”

A key component of HIV prevention services is PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) – a proven preventative measure for individuals who do not have HIV but are considered at high risk for contracting the virus. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).  Individuals taking PrEP ingest a daily dose of Truvada, a pill that helps block transmission of the HIV infection from bodily fluids. Additionally, individuals commit to regular follow-ups every three months with a healthcare provider. According to the CDC, when taken consistently, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by over 90 percent.

PrEP is recommended for individuals who are HIV negative and: 

  • Have a partner whose HIV status is unknown 
  • Are in an ongoing sexual relationship with an HIV positive partner who does not have the condition under control with daily antiviral medications
  • Received treatment for a sexually transmitted infection within the past six months
  • Have injected drugs and/or shared needles within the last six months 
  • Have a non-monogamous partner who may not be practicing safe sex  

“Having a candid conversation with a knowledgeable healthcare provider about your options is the first step toward seeing if PrEP is right for you,” said Dr. Garnett. “Creating a home for HIV PrEP services Uptown makes preventative STD and HIV prevention services more accessible. Additionally, we are demonstrating a long-term commitment to promoting sexual health in the region.”

In addition to PrEP treatment, the following services are available by appointment at Ochsner Health Center – Tchoupitoulas: 

  • STD diagnosis and treatment
  • Select vaccinations (Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and HPV)
  • Evaluation for common problems with sexual function 

Like other Ochsner facilities, at Ochsner Health Center – Tchoupitoulas connects patients to the entire Ochsner Health System network of facilities and physicians through Epic – Ochsner’s integrated electronic health record system, which enables Ochsner physicians to securely share patient information, resulting in a higher level of coordinated care across the system. Patients can also use personalized MyOchsner accounts to access tests results and schedule appointments online with primary care physicians and other specialists throughout the Ochsner Health System.

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