Atlanta City Council approves $100,000 PrEP project

The City of Atlanta and the Fulton County Board of Health have entered into an intergovernmental agreement to provide PrEP services to combat the city’s HIV crisis.

The Atlanta City Council unanimously approved a resolution on Monday authorizing the city to pay Fulton County $100,000 to hire two part-time nurses for the project. The nurses would provide PrEP services in the Fulton County Board of Health’s mobile HIV testing clinics, as well as PrEP education and support to primary care providers, Grady Health clinics and hospitals.

The money for the project came from an allocation that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms put into her first budget specifically to fight HIV/AIDS.

“HIV and AIDS does not discern between gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” Bottoms (photo) said in a statement. “To effectively drive down Atlanta’s HIV/AIDS transmission rate, we must not only expand the scope of preventative services, but also expand the conversation.”

“An open dialogue — especially within the African American community — will help reduce transmission and assist in early diagnosis and treatment,” she added.

Councilmember Antonio Brown, who is the council's only LGBTQ member and first black LGBTQ member, sponsored the resolution.

The $100,000 is to fund the PrEP project for one year, according to the resolution. PrEP is the use of a once-a-day pill taken by HIV-negative people to reduce the risk of infection. PrEP reduces the risk of HIV infection by up to 92 percent, according to the CDC.

Bottoms’ LGBTQ Advisory Board presented the project to her in January. Kirk Rich, co-chair of the board, said that the council’s approval “could not be better news.”

“It’s unprecedented cooperation with something that is so important to our community and every community that this epidemic touches,” he told Project Q Atlanta. “That’s the really good news out of this.”

Details are still being ironed out about whether the PrEP services will be available to people outside of Fulton, according to Rich. The resolution stated services would be available “within the City of Atlanta.”

“Now it’s a matter of figuring out structure,” Rich said.

It is unclear when the project will start, but Rich said the board will make sure that it will be expedited.

Rich said in January that he and board co-chair Pam Stewart would be meeting with Bottoms to ask for more money in the city budget to fight HIV, beyond the $100,000.

“We haven’t met with the mayor yet, but anytime we have the opportunity to leverage funds on something of this magnitude, that’s always our job,” Rich said. “I do know that this mayor is in tune or we wouldn’t have the cooperation of the county and the city that we have right now.”

The City of Atlanta also gave a $10,000 grant to Above the Status Quo to retrofit the local non-profit’s mobile HIV testing unit, according to the press release. Above the Status Quo provides services for at-risk youth on Atlanta’s Westside.

Metro Atlanta has the fourth-highest HIV rate in the U.S., according to the CDC, and Fulton County has the second-highest HIV rate in the country in counties with 100,000 people or more.