Up Close: The New and Improved HIV.gov Services Locator
Big news! We’ve launched a new and improved version of our HIV Testing and Services Locator. Designed to help users find HIV testing and other related services near them, the Locator has been used more than 51 million times since it was first launched in 2009.
The new Locator offers new content, including prescribers of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), and makes use of the latest in web technology to provide the best possible user experience to those seeking HIV services.
Here are just a few ways we’ve upgraded this tool:
Content and Display Changes
- PrEP services added: We’ve incorporated information about where users can find a nearby prescriber of HIV to help expand access to this highly effective HIV prevention tool.
- Improved results display: We’ve made improvements to the display of search results. Users can now toggle back and forth between a map display and a list display. Other changes to help users select the HIV services sites that are best for them include the ability to move the map to re-center it on a different neighborhood or town and refresh the search results and the addition of a new multi-service icon to indicate when a location offers several HIV-related services.
- Refreshed look: We’ve given the web interface and the widget a makeover. Who doesn’t like a new look?
Web Technology Innovations
- Responsive widget: A widget is a tiny app embedded in another website to help users access information fast. Our Locator widget is used on many partners’ websites. We’ve made the new widget responsive so that it re-sizes to the space available on any host’s site. This gives website managers more options to incorporate it on pages. We’ll be retiring our old widget by the end of this year (is it on your website?). To make sure that your website visitors can continue to access information on HIV services near them, we’re encouraging our partners to embed the new widget. It’s quick and easy to integrate into a website—just two lines of code! To access the new and improved widget, go to https://www.hiv.gov/locator.
- Progressive Web Application: This is HIV.gov’s first progressive web app (PWA). This new web technology combines the frictionless discoverability and reach of the web with the instantaneous experience and engagement of a mobile app. We are taking advantage of the fact that the web is ready to deliver app-like experiences on phones at a much lower cost to develop and maintain.
Upgraded for Today’s Users and Supporting Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America
- Mobile device users: When our Locator first launched in 2009, users accessed it mostly via a desktop computer. Today, most users visit it from mobile devices, reflecting the new expectation of being able to access information “on the go.” We also know that reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites and lower-income Americans, many of the populations most affected by HIV in the United States. So, we’ve optimized our tool with them in mind.
- Those needing a one-stop tool: We know that 1 in 7 Americans with HIV has not been diagnosed, about 400,000 Americans with HIV are not getting the HIV care they need, and too few Americans at high risk of HIV infection are taking PrEP. So we want the Locator to be a tool to help these individuals quickly and easily find the HIV services that they need in or near their own communities. We’ve collaborated with many federal partners to bring together in one place data on where individuals can access many different kinds of HIV-related services, including HIV and STI testing, PrEP, HIV care, housing, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and more. That way, users don’t have to find and search multiple different websites to get this information.
- Supports those searching for HIV testing, care and treatment, and PrEP: Three of the four strategies being pursued under the new plan to reduce new HIV infections by 90% by 2030 are Diagnose, Treat, and Prevent. In support of those strategies, the new HIV.gov HIV Services Locator can help individuals learn their HIV status, connect to care and treatment that can protect their health and prevent transmission of HIV to their partners if they are diagnosed with HIV, or connect to PrEP and other prevention services if their test result is negative.
We’re excited to share this new tool with the HIV community and look forward to helping many millions more users learn about HIV services that they or someone they know needs.
Cathy Thomas is a Partner, Technology and Channels, at ICF, a contractor that supports HIV.gov.