University at Buffalo: Researcher Authored First Paper to Survey Pharmacy Students about HIV Prevention Drug

Sarahmona Przybyla.

Published May 23, 2019

Dr. Sarahmona Przybyla, assistant professor of community health and health behavior in the University at Buffalo School of Public Health and Health Professions is the author of the first paper to survey pharmacy students about their knowledge of and attitudes toward PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), which is a drug administered to people at high risk for HIV.

The study of 291 students enrolled in the pharmacy doctoral program (PharmD) in UB’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences found that:

  • 89 percent agreed that PrEP can be a cost-effective tool to prevent HIV infection
  • 12 percent felt that PrEP is too expensive to justify its use
  • 16 percent felt that individuals prescribed the drug would not take it regularly
  • 64 percent felt confident they could counsel patients about PrEP
  • 87 percent reported that they intended to counsel patients about the drug

Other studies have examined PrEP attitudes among pharmacists, physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as medical students, but none have surveyed pharmacy students, Dr. Przybyla said.

Awareness, knowledge, and attitudes towards human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) among pharmacy students“, published online ahead of print in the journal Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, reveals a need for increased educational efforts to improve pharmacy students’ knowledge of CDC prescription guidelines for the drug.

For example, 40 percent of respondents — a higher proportion than in previous studies of health care providers — erroneously believed that widespread use of PrEP could significantly increase rates of antiretroviral resistance.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for clinicians provide detailed evidence that drug-resistant mutations are rare, researchers note.