HRC Endorses PrEP & Calls for Bold Action to Expand Access to Anti-HIV Drug

by maureenemccarty

Human Rights Campaign calls preventive treatment plan “a critically important tool that must be part of any and all efforts to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States”

WASHINGTON– In a policy paper released today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, explicitly endorsed the use of Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). PrEP is any medical or public health tool used to prevent the spread of a disease or infection prior to exposure. Truvada is the only brand name anti-HIV drug combination currently approved for PrEP, which protects against HIV but no other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). When taken as prescribed by a knowledgeable healthcare provider, and paired with other safer sex practices, Truvada can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by upwards of 90 percent. 

“PrEP is a dose of hope, taken once daily. Today, there is an unprecedented chance to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States, in part through PrEP’s aggressive prevention of new HIV infections,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “There is no reason—medical or otherwise—to discourage individuals from taking control of their sexual health and talking to their doctor about PrEP. Bold action must be taken to guarantee affordable access to this life-changing regimen.”

It is important to note that HRC’s recommendation applies especially to populations deemed most vulnerable to HIV infection. Truvada is not right for all individuals, and any medical decision should be made in concert with a knowledgeable healthcare provider.

HRC joins AIDS United and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis Center (GMHC), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), in endorsing PrEP. HRC is pairing its announcement with new calls for insurers, regulators, and Truvada’s drug manufacturer to take bold steps to reduce costs, educate the public, and adopt a goal of universal access for all medically-qualified individuals—regardless of socioeconomic background.

Read HRC’s policy paper here.

HRC makes the following requests of stakeholders:

1.     Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:  HRC calls on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to accelerate dissemination of expanded guidance and support about PrEP and its administration to all agencies and providers.

2.     Gilead Sciences:  HRC acknowledges Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of Truvada, for their efforts to increase access and co-pay assistance for low-income individuals. HRC urges Gilead to reduce the staggering cost of the drug in furtherance of expanded access. Furthermore, we urge Gilead to undertake a public awareness campaign to increase consumer knowledge of these affordability options.

3.     State Officials: HRC calls on the directors of state Medicaid programs to investigate best practices for increasing access to PrEP for individuals within their jurisdictions. Importantly, those states that have yet to expand Medicaid should do so swiftly in order to ensure low-income Americans have access to PrEP.  Additionally, we call on states to look to the Washington State Department of Health in their creation of a PrEP Drug Assistance Program as a potential model.

4.     Chief Insurance Regulators in all 50 states: HRC calls on each state’s chief insurance regulator to aggressively disseminate formulary and co-pay best practice information to all insurers—and to pursue all insurers who deny legitimate claims for HIV-negative patients who, with the blessing of their provider, seek to utilize PrEP.

5.     Top 25 Insurance Companies in the United States: HRC calls on the nation’s leading insurance companies to undertake a stem-to-stern revision of their formulary and co-pay standards as they relate to PrEP. In all cases, access standards should be consistent across state lines, co-pays should be lowered, and full access to PrEP for those who qualify should be prioritized.  In addition, insurance companies should further educate subscribers and providers on PrEP eligibility.

Truvada does not provide protection against other sexually transmitted diseases. With STDs such as syphilis on the rise, and with their capacity to lead to life-threatening conditions if untreated, it’s important for sexually active individuals to protect themselves and always engage in safer sex practices and get tested regularly.

“Affordable access to PrEP as a prevention option is essential if we are to beat this epidemic,” Griffin said. “We’ve got to work together if we’re going to seize this historic opportunity to change countless lives for the better.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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