The Institute for Technology in Health Care

The 2018 recipient of this award was Michael Ohl, MD, MPH,  MSPH of the University of Iowa and is the winner of the 7th annual AAHIVM/Institute for Technology in Health Care HIV Practice Award.  Increasing HIV incidence in some rural areas of the United States - and recent HIV outbreaks in rural areas impacted by the opioid epidemic - demonstrate the need to develop effective and scalable rural PrEP delivery models. TelePrEP leverages existing technologies, health care resources, and public health programs to create a scalable rural PrEP model that can be replicated in other settings. 

Providing PrEP to individuals at risk for acquiring HIV infection will reduce new HIV infections. Creation of a private and accessible telehealth delivery model will allow rural-dwelling Iowans to obtain the same level of preventative care available to their urban-dwelling counterparts, contributing to greater health equity. Engaging individuals with ongoing high-risk behavior in a PrEP delivery system ensures routine screening and monitoring for HIV and other STDs. TelePrEP partnerships allow public health disease intervention specialists to follow up with newly identified STDs among TelePrEP clients with greater efficiency.

Telehealth, mailed medication, and SMS communication ensure privacy and overcome distance barriers. Patients who are worried about stigma and privacy concerns in local clinics and pharmacies are more likely to remain engaged with preventive care and PrEP monitoring. Easy access to the TelePrEP team via SMS allows questions to be answered and side effects addressed in real time. Positive interactions with the TelePrEP team keeps communication open, builds trust, and facilitates discussions related to risk and medication adherence.

AAHIVM/ITHC HIV Practice Award was established as an annual award in 2011, with the first awards given by the American Academy for HIV Medicine (AAHIVM) in 2012. Recipients are nominated for the award and an AAHIVM committee selects recipients.  Some of the awards have been given for use of social media to educate at-risk populations, telemedicine to expand clinical reach in urban, rural, and prison populations, and in focusing electronic health software on the needs of clinicians specializing in treating HIV positive patients.   While the ITHC funds the awards, it has no involvement in the selection process.