To boost awareness of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP and PEP) as ways to prevent HIV infection, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOH) has launched an outreach program targeted to 600 doctors, the Bronx’s Norwood News reports.

Titled “PrEP & PEP: New Ways to Prevent HIV,” the campaign includes informational visits to targeted health care providers. Demetre Daskalakis, MD, an assistant commissioner at the DOH, said the campaign also hopes to change the tone of the conversations happening around PrEP and PEP.

“What we need to do is teach people to talk about risk,” Daskalakis said during the campaign’s launch at Montefiore Medical Center’s AIDS Center, “because when it’s identified you can teach people how to modify their behavior, how to use condoms and other barrier protections. And if that’s not enough we can teach them to use PrEP and PEP without judging their behavior.”

According to a DOH press release and related health alert, the outreach campaign includes an action kit and resources to promote evidence-based best practices around PrEP and PEP. It also includes information about testing for and treating sexually transmitted infections, and it addresses the health needs of men who have sex with men (MSM).

A DOH study last year found that nearly 60 percent of MSM were not aware of PrEP. A separate analysis found that visits to New York City emergency rooms regarding potential HIV exposure increased threefold in the past decade.

Currently, PrEP involves taking the daily pill Truvada (tenofovir/emtricitabine) to prevent getting HIV. According to the health alert, PEP involves starting meds within 36 hours of a possible exposure and taking them for 28 days.