Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication has been shown to reduce the risk of new HIV infection by as much as 97% when taken consistently. However, experts from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently released an analysis
on the state of the HIV epidemic which indicates that PrEP is “vastly underutilized.”
On December 3, 2019, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced
the launch of Ready, Set, PrEP, a program which will provide PrEP to Americans without prescription drug insurance coverage.
Ready, Set, PrEP is a component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America
initiative, which aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the US by 90% by 2030. HHS stated that increasing awareness and access to PrEP will provide an effective means of prevention to thousands of people, bringing the US closer to ending the HIV epidemic.
“Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities,” said HHS secretary Alex Azar in making the announcement.
The HHS press release highlighted that 1,000,000 Americans who could benefit from PrEP. The Trump administration’s agreement with Gilead Sciences, Inc. will provide PrEP for up to 200,000
individuals. The program will not, however, cover costs of necessary clinic visits or lab tests.
HHS also noted that the pharmacy chains Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS Health had pledged to donate dispensing services to HHS. By March 30, 2020, qualifying patients will be able to obtain PrEP medication at over 21,000 pharmacies throughout the United States. Participating pharmacies represent approximately one-third of all pharmacies in the United States.
“[PrEP] is a critical tool for ending the HIV epidemic, but to make an impact it has to be available for people who need it most. Ready, Set, PrEP will increase access to this effective and preventive drug for people at risk,” said assistant secretary for health Brett P. Giroir, MD.
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.
While Ready, Set, PrEP is poised to provide access to many without other means of acquiring PrEP, it is worth noting that lack of insurance coverage is a possible barrier to PrEP
uptake even when PrEP is provided at no cost to the uninsured through a manufacturer assistance program.
Clinicians can enroll patients at GetYourPrEP.com
. The site also features a location-based tool for finding clinics or pharmacies which provide PrEP.
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