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Rhode Island Governor signs legislation which will reduce spread of HIV transmission

Christian Fernsby |
Governor Dan McKee signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Melissa Murray that will help reduce the spread of HIV transmission by making HIV prevention and post exposure medications accessible and covered by insurance, including newer injectable formulations.

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The Governor signed the legislation at Open Door Health and was joined by Senator Murray, state and local officials and community advocates.

"PREP and PEP are key tools to prevent the spread and help us work towards the eradication of HIV," said Governor Dan McKee.

"However, this will only happen if we continue to break down barriers to access these critical medications. Thank you to all the advocates for raising their voices on this important issue and thank you to the

There are two commonly used HIV-prevention medications: pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP).

PrEP is taken before an exposure to prevent HIV, whereas PEP is taken after a potential or known exposure.

Together, the treatments have contributed to a dramatic reduction in HIV transmission rates in recent years. But only about 25 percent of individuals at risk of HIV transmission are using these treatments, according to the US Centers for Disease Control.

Advocates point to both out-of-pocket costs and lack of access as barriers.

The legislation requires the coverage of PrEP and PEP drugs by health insurance plans at no out-of-pocket costs to patients. The bill would also enable pharmacists to prescribe them to eligible patients. The bill outlines clear guidelines for which patients would be eligible.

CDC recommends that all adults test at least once for HIV in their lifetime and more frequently if engaging in behaviors that may place a person at ongoing risk of infection.

For people that may be at risk of HIV, PrEP is initiated before and continued throughout periods of potential exposure to HIV.

It was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 and is safe and highly effective when taken as prescribed.

PEP is taken after a potential exposure, such as a broken condom, shared needle or sexual assault. If taken within 72 hours of a possible HIV exposure, the drug is highly effective at preventing transmission.

Both treatments are considered preventative, and free coverage had been required under the Affordable Care Act. But on March 30, in a case called Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled, among other things, that this requirement violated the religious freedom of employers.

The case is expected to head to the U.S. Supreme Court.


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