HIV prevention strategies and guidance from the Washington State Department of Health

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HIV prevention strategies and guidance from the Washington State Department of Health

The Health Care Authority (HCA) is partnering with the Department of Health (DOH) to share a series of messages with health care providers about HIV prevention and best practices in caring for priority populations. This is the first of several messages we will share over the next six months.

Latest prevention strategies

  1. Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a daily pill that can be prescribed to prevent HIV.
  2. Treatment as Prevention, (TasP), which is when a person living with HIV follows their HIV treatment regimen and the virus is suppressed, and if they continue treatment, cannot transmit HIV to others. 

Recommended best practices to prevent HIV

Health care providers play a critical role in identifying and caring for people living with HIV and those at risk for HIV who would benefit from Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). These activities are recommended to be put into practice by clinicians and your care team:

  • Take a thorough sexual health, social and drug use history of all your patients.
  • Routinely screen for HIV, HCV, or other sexually transmitted diseases*.
  • Identify and test patients who may be at risk for HIV.
  • Begin treatment for those that test positive for HIV.
  • Begin PrEP for those that test negative for HIV.
  • Refer and follow-up based on needs identified through screening and clinical evaluation.Counsel patients living with HIV and those at risk of acquiring HIV on adherence for those receiving treatment or for those on PrEP.
  • Counsel persons at risk of acquiring HIV on harm reduction strategies in addition to PrEP.
  • Share information about appropriate community-based services.

Clinical guidance for PrEP prescribing and management

PrEP is an FDA-approved biomedical intervention for people at high risk for HIV. It reduces a person’s chances of acquiring HIV by 96 percent.  Trusted resources health care providers can turn to for guidance and information:

PrEP coverage and financial support information

PrEP medication and clinical monitoring is covered by major commercial insurance programs, Medicare, and Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). In addition to manufacturer patient assistance programs, DOH administers a PrEP drug assistance program that can help pay for prescription, medical, and lab costs. DOH is expanding its provider network; interested providers can request information by emailing Visit the PrEP website to learn more information about PrEP and PrEP DAP at PrEPDAP).

Resources and training opportunities for clinicians

Educational courses on PrEP are available through the University of Washington (UW). The courses are part of the National HIV Curriculum. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits are available per hour of participation. More information is available at   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) hosts an array of resources for providers including the following continuing education courses. These courses provide an overview of PrEP as a prevention strategy and discuss the use of PrEP in primary care settings.

Stigma and health disparities considerations

New legislation removes barriers to routine HIV screening and testing. Effective June 7, 2018, the law requiring health care providers to obtain exceptional consent for HIV testing, which allow patients to “opt-out” of HIV screening, was repealed.

In Washington, all health care providers are required to obtain consent prior to conducting any medical care or treatment.  Until now, Washington law required specific exceptional consent before people could be tested for HIV.

Washington joins Undetectable = Untransmittable HIV prevention campaign

In July, the Washington State Department of Health became the sixth state health department to join the Undetectable = Untransmittable or U=U HIV prevention campaign, joining 18 other state and local health departments and more than 700 organizations from 90 countries. U=U describes the scientific findings that people living with HIV who have undetectable levels of HIV in their blood, have effectively no risk of transmitting HIV to their partners. We invite healthcare providers and organizations to become local supporters and help us end the epidemic. Visit the U=U campaign page to learn more at


  • CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care.
  • For those with specific risk factors, CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year.