California Governor Expands Access to HIV Prevention Drug PrEP at Local Pharmacies

Governor of California – Gavin Newsom | Credits: AP Photo

United States: The Governor of California – Gavin Newsom, has taken a bold step by making PrEP – a daily medication against HIV infection – easily available at the local pharmacies. On Tuesday, the Governor passed a bill that will potentially increase the statewide availability, especially among the communities that witness a stubbornly high number of cases.

The bill is a sort of amendment to the earlier legislation, which was signed in 2019. It is noteworthy that at that time, the State became the first of its kind to pass legislation to allow pharmacists to provide PrEP without a proper prescription from a doctor. However, the legislation also includes some limitations, according to the reports by San Francisco Chronicle.

However, it is believed that the new legislation has covered all the loopholes of the earlier legislation – which will contribute towards the decrease in the cases associated with HIV infection.

Democrat representative from San Francisco – Senate Scott Wiener, who highly contributed towards the introduction of the legislation in 2019 as well as 2024, said, “We know that PrEP is a critical part of any strategy to end HIV infection.”

He added, “But so many people who should be on PrEP are not on PrEP. There is a significant lack of access and way too many barriers,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

What exactly is PrEP?

PrEP can be elaborated as pre-exposure prophylaxis. The dose has shown approximately 99 percent effectiveness against HIV infection. Health experts have mentioned that the dose of the medication can be given through pill or injection; however, it is to be noted that the new legislation is applicable to pills.

Visual Representation for pills of PrEP

HIV in California!

According to the official data by the state health official, approximately 4,000 new HIV infections have been reported every year in the State. Additionally, it is reported that the cases have seen a drop of around 30 percent in the last 15 years because of PrEP. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the decrease is seen among the population that has been regularly taking PrEP.

While addressing the same, the spokesperson for Equality California – Jorge Reyes Salinas, stated, “When someone has PrEP, they’re reducing their chances of HIV tremendously,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Salinas further added, “We’ve seen that the numbers can be reduced in communities of color and immigrant communities that are more aware of the medications they can take,” the reports suggested.

He continued by saying that easy access to PrEP will make a huge difference to those who were earlier finding it difficult to find a cure against HIV.

In a similar regard, Wiener stated, “Allowing someone to go to their neighborhood pharmacy, where they’re probably going multiple times a week anyway, is a really effective way of increasing access and just making it easier for people to start and keep using PrEP.”

What rules must be followed under the new legislation?

The window for selling, under the new legislation, is up to 90 days. Earlier, under the earlier law, the time frame was limited to 30 days.

In addition to this, the new law of health insurance plans will not only cover the pills but also testing and other services provided by pharmacists when offering PrEP.

Earlier, pharmacists did not receive reimbursement for consultations lasting 15 to 30 minutes or for lab tests, such as HIV tests, to verify that individuals on PrEP are not infected.

Both bills were sponsored by Richard Dang, the former president of the California Pharmacists Association. In regard to bills, he stated, “There’s been very low uptake of this service since the first law was signed in 2019,” as per the reports by the San Francisco Chronicle.

Furthermore, he added, “Pre-exposure prophylaxis is something you should be taking every day, with no gaps. Many pharmacists said it felt like doing a disservice to start them for 30 days and then drop them.”

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