First national location-based search engine for HIV PrEP launches, removing access barriers
Woodruff Health Sciences Center | Sept. 27, 2016
People who want to find out where to get drugs that will prevent them from getting infected with HIV have a new tool.
Researchers from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University will unveil a new website, www.preplocator.org, that will allow users to locate a medical provider or clinic that can prescribe Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV infection. If taken daily, PrEP helps prevent the transmission of HIV. The website will be introduced at the 20th Annual US Conference on AIDS taking place in Hollywood, FL on September 15th.
"PrEP has the potential to substantially reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States but only if people know how and where to get it," says Aaron Siegler, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. "Importantly, the tool features a search function that allows users to search for PrEP providers who would prescribe to individuals without insurance."
The CDC has estimated that more than one million people in the United States are eligible for PrEP.
The site is available both as a website and a widget that can be used on other websites. It connects individuals to both public and private PrEP providers through its unique, searchable location-based database. Siegler, who is also the principal investigator of the project, and his team, part of PRISM Health at Emory, gathered data on more than 1200 healthcare clinics and providers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico who will prescribe PrEP. To do so, they partnered with local and state health departments, HIV medical professional organizations and community-based organizations who provided them with the initial data, which they have since verified and updated.
The preplocator.org database will be crowdsourced, which allows users to suggest new providers or update information on providers currently available in the database.
The philanthropic arm of M·A·C Cosmetics, the M·A·C AIDS Fund, provided funding for the development of the locator to address the nationwide gap in PrEP adoption.
"PrEP saves lives, period," says Nancy Mahon, global executive director of the M·A·C AIDS Fund. "While leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS recommend that people at risk of infection use PrEP, it’s not catching on as quickly as we would like, so we need to meet them where they are with information and services that make PrEP an obvious and easy decision."
According to Siegler, the next steps of the project include outreach to health departments, community organizations, and businesses such as dating sites and apps to continue to build awareness of its availability.
Launch partners currently hosting the PrEP Locator database include: pleaseprepme.org, Greater Than AIDS, and AIDSVu.org. Organizations interested in hosting the PrEP Locator can easily access the widget at https://preplocator.org/publicly-available-tools/. PrEP providers or clinics can add themselves to the database at www.preplocator.org. A publicly available automated program interface (API) will be available in late 2016 to allow for open source access to the database.