PrEP For HIV Prevention Available For Free From Federal Government : Shots

Henrietta Brewer
December 5, 2019

The Trump administration rolled out a new program on Tuesday that would provide HIV prevention drugs to uninsured individuals who need the medication but can't afford it, reported Stat News.

The CDC report doesn't break down the PrEP use figures among the different risk groups associated with HIV infection such as gay and bisexual men or men who have sex with men but who don't identify as gay or bisexual.

On Tuesday, Secretary of Health & Human Services Alex Azar announced the "Ready, Set, PrEP" program in a conference call with reporters. Without insurance, the drug can cost as much as $1,500 a month.

CVS Health, Rite Aid, and Walgreens will also be donating their pharmacy dispensing services to the program, beginning sometime before March 30, 2020, Azar added, which means that qualifying patients will then be able to access free PrEP from 21,000 pharmacies across the country, including free delivery by mail.

In May, Gilead first announced it would make up to 2.4 million bottles of Truvada available for free to uninsured Americans at risk of contracting HIV.

Young people and black Americans were least likely to have the virus under control, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

Of the 1.2 million Americans who could benefit from PrEP, about 18% received a prescription for the medication previous year, according to the CDC. President Donald Trump's administration aims to reduce those by 75% in five years and by 90% in 10 years.

To qualify for Ready, Set, PrEP, an individual must test negative for HIV, have a valid prescription for the medications, and not have prescription drug coverage. "These findings underscore the urgent need to rapidly scale up HIV testing, treatment and PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis]". Once approved, they'll be provided a card with a number necessary for their pharmacy to fill the prescription at no cost, officials said. Percentages were lowest among people ages 13-24 (57%), blacks/African Americans (57%), and men who inject drugs (52%).

Someone who tests positive should begin treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis.

Spencer said Maricopa County boasts an unusually high number of new cases of HIV infections each year. Viral suppression effectively means no risk of transmission of the virus.

Advocates in Arizona welcomed the announcement and the larger goal of ending HIV in America by 2030. 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".

"Too many Americans with HIV are unaware they have it, too few have the virus under control, and too few are taking the daily pill that prevents HIV", the CDC said on Tuesday in a statement announcing the release of the new report.

According to the CDC, 154,000 people with HIV haven't been tested and don't know they have the virus.

In order to meet the President's goal of reducing the number of HIV infections by 90% within the next decade, the CDC said in its report that "accelerated efforts to diagnose, treat and provide PrEP while addressing disparities are urgently needed".

Mermin emphasized the importance of engagement at the community level, highlighting a few bright spots, such as 18 states where at least two-thirds of people with HIV are virally suppressed, and 2 US jurisdictions that have at least one-third of eligible people on PrEP.

Other reports by iNewsToday