JMIR public health and surveillance 2017 09 063(3) e58 doi 10.2196/publichealth.7902
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly effective in preventing HIV transmission, yet patients interested in learning more about PrEP or in getting a PrEP prescription may not be able to find local medical providers willing to prescribe PrEP.
We sought to create a national database of PrEP-providing clinics to allow for patients to have access to a unified, vetted source of PrEP providers in an easily accessible database.
To develop the protocol and operating procedures for the PrEP Locator, we conducted a series of 7 key informant interviews with experts who had organized PrEP or other HIV service directories. We convened an external advisory committee and a collaborators board to gain expert and community-situated perspectives.
At its public release in September 2016, the database included 1,272 PrEP-providing clinics, including clinics in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico. Web searches, referrals, and outreach to state health departments identified 58 unique lists of PrEP-providing clinics, with 33 from state health departments, 6 from government localities, 2 from professional medical organizations, and 19 from nongovernmental organizations. Out of the 2,420 clinics identified from the lists and Web searches, we removed 798 as duplicate entries, and we determined that 350 were ineligible for listing. The most common reasons for ineligibility were not having the appropriate medical licensure to prescribe PrEP (67/350) or not prescribing PrEP, based on self-report (192/350). Key informant interviews shaped important protocol decisions, such as listing clinics instead of individual clinicians as the primary data element and streamlining data collection to facilitate scalability. We developed a Web interface to provide public access to the data, with geolocated data display, search filter functionality, a webform for public suggestions of new clinics, and a publicly available directory Web tool that can be embedded in websites. In the 6 months following release, preplocator.org and hosting websites had received over 35,000 unique views and 300 clinic additions, and 5 websites had initiated hosting of the widget.
Directories exist for many preventive and treatment services. As new medical applications become available, there will be a corresponding need to develop new directories for service provision. Geolocated directories can assist patients in accessing care and have the potential to increase demand for and access to newer, more efficacious medical interventions. Early choices in the development of service directories have long-lasting impact, because once data collection begins, it can be challenging to reverse course. The PrEP Locator protocol may inform early decisions in the development of future service directories. Additionally, the case study on developing the PrEP Locator demonstrates the importance of formative work in identifying service-specific factors that can guide decisions on directory development.