PleasePrEPMe.org seeks to expand access to PrEP within California

 

HIVE (hiveonline.org) and Project Inform (projectinform.org) are pleased to announce the hiring of three key positions for supporting PrEP services within California and nationally through expanded navigation services at PleasePrEPMe.org (PPM). The launch date of these free new services is being planned for early April.

“HIVE launched PleasePrEPMe.org in 2015 to provide consumers a search engine to find PrEP-friendly clinicians within California,” stated Shannon Weber, Director at HIVE. “This year, with a grant from the state department of health, we’re excited to be expanding the original site to include an online chat function as well as provide navigation assistance by phone, email and text services in English and Spanish.”

Charlie Romero comes to the program as PleasePrEPMe’s State PrEP Navigator from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where he supported adolescents’ access to care and prevention, including PrEP, for the last four years. He brings incredible compassion and commitment to people of diverse backgrounds along with his real-world clinic experience to support individuals in accessing the care they need. Charlie is based in Los Angeles and is eager to help bring a true state-wide vision and network to PPM efforts.

Laura Lazar very recently started as PleasePrEPMe Coordinator and is based in San Francisco. Laura joins PPM from AVAC (avac.org) where she was Program Coordinator of Research and Data Analytics, reporting on HIV prevention R&D investments and managing their HIV prevention study database. She previously worked at the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation running the database that matched applicants for peer-to-peer support. With her strong organizational skills, analytical mind and ability to connect, Laura will assure our work processes and communications make PPM a product that is maximally useful for all.

Reilly O’Neal recently joined PleasePrEPMe as State Resources Coordinator. Previously, Reilly was the editor of San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s BETA Blog and more recently has been a freelance writer and editor for UCSF and Gilead. Reilly will work with us to develop state-specific resource pages, helping us develop a sustainable infrastructure to support states in PrEP rollout nationally.

Although additional strategies are in clinical study, currently PrEP is taken as a daily pill by HIV-negative individuals at risk for the virus. The State Department of Health estimates that between 221,528 and 238,628 Californians are eligible for PrEP, though far fewer than that are currently on PrEP. In contrast to these figures nationally, only 80,000 prescriptions have been written since the FDA approval in July 2012.

“PleasePrEPMe is looking forward to further help Californians understand PrEP and how to find and maintain their prescriptions,” remarked Alan McCord, Director of Education at Project Inform. “It’s exciting for us to help enhance individuals’ sexual and general health, and our new star staff are eager to begin this journey throughout the state.”