The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) just made a major move in the fight to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS in the United States.
On Tuesday, the department unveiled its national Ready, Set, PrEP program. Through the initiative, Americans without health insurance can now apply to obtain the preventative drug Pre-exposure prophylaxis—a.k.a. PrEP or Truvada, its brand-name counterpart from manufacturer Gilead Sciences—for free.
The program is part of an 11-year partnership between Gilead and the HHS, with the drug company pledging to donate 2.4 million bottles of Truvada to uninsured Americans per year.
To participate in Ready, Set, PrEP, applicants must lack health insurance, be tested for HIV with a negative result, and have a prescription from a doctor for the drug. CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have all donated their dispensing services, meaning eligible recipients can obtain PrEP from more than 21,000 pharmacy locations nationwide.
In a press statement, HHS secretary Alex Azar noted the program is a key component of the Trump administration's plan to "end the HIV epidemic in America." (Given the Trump administration's decidedly anti-LGBTQ track record, the president's purported goal to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS was the subject of intense skepticism from LGBTQ advocates.)
"Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities," Azar added. "The Trump administration recognizes the vital role of prevention in ending the HIV epidemic in America, and connecting members of vulnerable communities to prevention services and medication is an important part of the president’s initiative.”
When used correctly, PrEP is highly effective at preventing new infections. It's become fairly popular among vulnerable populations across the country, too: In March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that roughly 35% of gay and bisexual men in the U.S. at a high risk of contracting HIV are now on PrEP.
However, the drug's staggeringly high retail markup from Gilead has been the subject of controversy among HIV/AIDS advocates for years, with prominent activists from groups like ACT UP urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to break the drug company's patent.
Hoping to enroll in Ready, Set, PrEP? Visit GetYourPrEP.com or call 855-447-8410 toll-free for more information.