Rupa R. Patel
Assistant Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine—Division of Infectious Diseases; Founder and Director of the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV Prevention Program
Rupa Patel, MD, MPH, DTM&H, dedicates her career to alleviating health disparities amongst underserved communities. As founder and program director of the Washington University HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Program and as Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the School of Medicine, Rupa focuses on biomedical HIV prevention.
Rupa’s compassion and commitment impact countless community members. Rupa founded the PrEP Program in 2014, which provides a drug regimen that is over 90% effective in preventing HIV infection in HIV-negative people when taken daily. Many young adult gay and bisexual men were eager to take the medicine but, due to a variety of social and financial factors, often could not continue seeing her or afford the costs of the program. Rupa advocates for accessible, affordable, and quality health care and has worked to create a sustainable PrEP Program for the St. Louis LGBTQ+ community.
As her patients have shared their positive experiences with friends, Rupa has become well known in St. Louis as an advocate for her patients and marginalized populations. Patients have described Rupa as “the first doctor I felt comfortable discussing my sexual health with.” Through her humility and collaborative approach, she helped create an extensive interdisciplinary team that works together to implement and scale up PrEP care services regionally and nationally.
Rupa’s implementation efforts, research, and expertise led her to become an expert physician for Physicians for Human Rights. She has developed a strong relationship with the Department of Psychiatry to provide support services to Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh. She conducted forensic medical exams on refugees to document crimes against humanity and helps prevent disease transmission in refugee camps. Her other collaborative efforts include developing mental health implementation strategies for women and children who have experienced sexual and gender-based violence. This work exemplifies Rupa’s service to underserved communities domestically and internationally. Her students and nominators Julia Zigman and Eliza Antonowich wrote, “Dr. Patel doesn’t strive to be known as a savior. Instead, her mission is to build and promote the community around her, one that flourishes with the same passion, inclusivity and determination she brings to work every day.”