Looking for HIV Care? Go Online

Looking for HIV Care? Go Online

June 1, 2009

Americans are increasingly going online—8 out of 10 at last count. Over 150 million U.S. adults have turned to the Web to find health information. People looking for HIV/AIDS care are probably doing the same and going online to find a phone number, an address, and guidance on what to do to get care.

Across the U.S., Ryan White agencies seem aware of this trend given improvements they are making to their Web sites. Consumer-friendly tools like searchable databases of services and downloadable service guides are far more evident than what was found a year ago, according to an informal TARGET Center review of Ryan White Web sites. The pace of change may have even picked up a notch in recent months, suggesting newfound recognition that Web sites are where people go for help.

Below are some examples and what Ryan White sites are offering people looking for services.

Searchable Databases

  • Arizona's Maricopa Integrated Health System, a Part C, D, and SPNS IT grantee, has developed the online HIV Care Planner, which includes a searchable and map-based database of HIV/AIDS services in Maricopa and Pinal Counties, Arizona, but also other features like medication and lab result logs for consumers to use in monitoring their own care.
  • Houston’s Blue Book Resource Guide for the Part A EMA—perhaps one of the grandfathers of online resource guides in the Ryan White Community—has for many years provided an online listing of services in their multi-county area.
  • Wisconsin’s HIV/STD/Hepatitis C Information & Referral Center includes a searchable services locator along with fact sheets and links to other resources.
  • Illinois HIV Care Connect is an extensive, statewide network of medical case management, health care and support services for people living with HIV. Your referral can help HIV+ individuals find the services they need to achieve optimal health and self-sufficiency. If you are HIV+ and want to refer yourself, you may do so.

How to Get Services

  • Maine provides a downloadable guide that explains medical care, giving consumers a better understanding of how the care system operates. It outlines the basics of HIV medical care, how to get insurance and other coverage, legal rights, and housing. The guide also contains a listing of services. Maine’s site also has a chart listing of services.
  • New Mexico’s Your First Appointment is a handy tool to let consumers know what to expect when getting HIV care.
  • South Dakota Part B has a Web page that explains what benefits are available, eligibility, and how to apply for services. Contact information is also provided.
  • The University of Alabama’s 1917 Clinic has a Becoming a New Patient Web page that covers topics like appointments, parking and check-in, insurance and billing, grievances, and more.

Maps and Directions to Service Sites

Links to Other Locators

  • In Northern Virginia, the HIV Resources Project provides a listing of HIV/AIDS housing, supportive and other services for their region, with links to service locators maintained by other agencies in the region, which comprises the Washington DC EMA.

One-Stop Locator

An HIV/AIDS Service Locator has been developed to provide a one-stop shop for finding Federally-funded HIV/AIDS services. The Locator functions like a search engine. It will look at the data contained in each agency’s Web site and return results, based upon Zip code.

The Locator is a free tool that can be placed on anybody’s Web site. It will take the form of a Widget—a visual icon or space on a Web page, behind which is coding that performs designated tasks. For example, a Widget can be used to share content from your Web site or locate services.

The Federal HIV/AIDS Web Communications Council and the AIDS.GOV Web team are oversaw the Locator project. Federal agencies involved are from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (including HRSA, CDC, and others) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.