Increasing Access to PrEP for Minority Women by Leveraging Beauty Shops as Community Health Hubs and Mobile Healthcare (“The Beauty Shop Study”)

(MPI: R. Proffitt & K. Knight)

Black women have HIV diagnosis rates that are 11 times higher than white women, and Tarrant County is a known national hot spot for new HIV infections. Although pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a drug that reduces the risk of contracting HIV by 99%, is widely available, there is low uptake of the medication with black women. Reasons include perception of low risk for acquiring HIV, substance use disorder comorbidity, medical mistrust, and socioeconomic barriers. This 1-year pilot research study funded by TCU’s College of Science & Engineering Dean’s Opportunity Fund seeks to test the feasibility and uptake of a sexual and reproductive healthcare approach for minority women using a mobile health unit (MHU) for direct delivery to underserved communities. The study’s novel intervention approach includes training hair stylists, hair braiders, and nail technicians as community-based health advocates (CHAs). In their role as CHAs, they will be taught how to encourage their minority female clients to get tested for HIV, seek PrEP when medically appropriate, and receive sexual and reproductive healthcare on the MHU. The pilot study will recruit and enroll a minimum of 40 participants who will be screened for HIV, Hepatitis C, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), cervical cancer,  and provided with HPV vaccination and prescriptions or referral for contraceptives and PrEP. The proposed project will provide the critical pilot data needed to support a proposal for a larger federally-funded project.