A passion for enabling patients to live healthier lives and a leap of faith landed Stacie Bordelon in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Specialty Pharmacy Services Infectious Disease Clinic.
After completing her pharmacy residency with UAMS, Bordelon applied for a position with the school’s Specialty Pharmacy Services program, which provides access to specialty medications for UAMS patients and employees. Without knowing where she would be assigned, Bordelon was stationed at the Infectious Disease Clinic to provide care for HIV patients.
During his 2019 State of the Union address, President Donald Trump announced a new plan for ending the HIV epidemic. The 10-year initiative that began this year aims to reduce new HIV infections to less than 3,000 per year by 2030. The plan is also targeting specific states with substantial HIV diagnoses in rural areas and Arkansas is among those states.
Bordelon is a member of the HIV Elimination Task Force at the Arkansas Department of Health, a group consisting of medical and public health representatives, public policy experts, government officials and faith-based and grassroots community members to help evolve and improve HIV care within the state.
Bordelon works directly with patients to assist in medication therapy management, transitions of care and patient retention for HIV treatment. She also helps the patient’s health care team determine the best regimens, provides patient counseling, evaluates regimens for potential drug-to-drug interactions, monitors the treatment responses and adverse effects and provides information about patient assistance programs.
One of the barriers that Bordelon and the team at UAMS Specialty Pharmacy Services program works to overcome is the cost of the postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) regimen of antiretroviral medications administered after a possible exposure to HIV. A full course of the treatment can cost upwards of $1,000 and isn’t always in stock.
Within the past two years, Bordelon and Dr. Ryan Dare, Sherrie Searcy, RN, the UAMS Emergency Department and the UAMS Infectious Disease Clinic have worked to coordinate care for patients who have experienced sexual assault and require PEP. When the process is initiated in the emergency department, Dare and Bordelon are notified and Bordelon gets to work providing financial medication assistance, filling and dispensing the medication and counseling the patient on the regimen in the emergency department.
While making headway in ensuring access to HIV medication and treatment, one of the most challenging aspects of Bordelon's job continues to be overcoming the public perception of HIV.
“If there is one thing that I want everyone to know it is that exposure to HIV can happen to anyone,” Bordelon said. “This is something that can happen to your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, daughter, son or any loved one. This impacts every socioeconomic group.”