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Coalition hopes to bring telehealth to HIV prevention efforts in rural Illinois

Truvada, one of the medications authorized for PrEP, recently went generic. PrEP is now required to be covered by insurance providers.
Jeff Chiu
Truvada is one of the medications authorized for PrEP.

The SIU School of Medicine is collaborating with Community Action Place and the Rainbow Café on a project meant to help decrease rates of HIV in rural Illinois.

A study conducted earlier this year by the Rural Harmony coalition found that many patients who are eligible for pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP, a daily pill that can prevent HIV infection, are not being told about the medication.

Professor Wiley Jenkins said there are many reasons for that, including a lack of education and people feeling like they can't disclose risk factors, including sexual orientation, to their doctors.

"A lot of it comes down to that health care encounter, that there's comfort on both sides, there's trust on both sides, and that there's also knowledge and education on both sides, because again, we also found that many of the individuals in the survey just didn't know that much about PrEP," he said.

The coalition has applied for a grant that would fund a program that would use telehealth to connect patients with providers that can prescribe PrEP. If the grant is approved, the program will launch in early 2022.

Steph Whiteside is a Digital Media News Specialist with WSIU radio in Carbondale, Ill. She previously worked as a general reporter at AJ+ and Current TV.