No Health Insurance? No Problem: You Can Still Get PrEP for Free

Laverne Higgins
December 5, 2019

HIV-preventing PrEP drugs are to be made available for free to people without insurance in the USA, under a pioneering new federal scheme.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a press release: "Ready, Set, PrEP is a historic expansion of access to HIV prevention medication and a major step forward in president Trump's plan to end the HIV epidemic in America".

HHS cited recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that found PrEP medication is "highly effective" at reducing a person's risk of contracting HIV. Both FDA-approved PrEP regimens (Truvada and Descovy) will be covered.

Starting in March, Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS pharmacies will distribute the drug in every state.

Patients will still need to speak to a clinician to decide if PrEP is the right treatment for their needs, and those visits can be provided at "low or no-cost" from many healthcare providers including those working in community clinics, he said.

The drugmaker, Gilead Sciences Inc., agreed earlier this year to donate the HIV prevention medication for 200,000 people per year for more than 10 years. "Quite Frankly, it's unprecedented", Alex Azar, Health and Human Services Secretary, said. We have filed against Gilead.

To qualify for Ready, Set, PrEP, people must test negative for HIV, have a valid prescription for the HIV medications and lack prescription drug coverage. In those regions, the pace of new HIV contaminations has declined since the presentation of PrEP and is now arriving at a level where there are scarcely any HIV-constructive individuals who are in danger of transmitting the infection and hardly any HIV-pessimistic individuals who are in danger of contracting it.

"The number of people who acquire HIV each year is unacceptably high", said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, and STD Prevention.

And when asked by a reporter about the reason, he said it was "unanswerable", because of differences in different populations and different locations.

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With U.S. statistics showing almost 40,000 new HIV cases each year, Azar said prevention medicine is key in ending the HIV epidemic over the next ten years.

Hudson County is one of the 57 jurisdictions identified as target areas under Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America (EHE) initiative.

"To be successful, we must also address social determinants of health".

New infections continue at roughly 100 people per day in the United States.

HIV, which stands for human immunodeficiency virus, is an infection that attacks the body's immune system.

According to the CDC, 154,000 people with HIV haven't been tested and don't know they have the virus. Among those who do know they have HIV, about 63% were on treatment and had a suppressed viral load - meaning more than a third still had uncontrolled HIV. There were racial disparities as well, with PrEP coverage of about 6% for blacks, 11% for Hispanics/Latinos, and 42% for whites. The president said that his Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative would "save the lives of individuals living with HIV by focusing on the cities and states most impacted by the disease".

"Test, treat, and prevent".

Overall, almost 86 percent of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV in 2017 had "received a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis", the agency reported. "Which is a summary as well as a haiku", he said.

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