HHS Hands Out Free HIV Prevention Drugs. Do You Qualify?

Carmen Heredia Rodriguez, Kaiser Health News

The Trump administration Tuesday unveiled a plan to distribute HIV prevention treatment free to people who don’t have prescription drug insurance coverage protection.

Called “Ready, Set, PrEP,” the federal program will present sufferers liable to contracting HIV one of many two pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medicine. Those medicines can cut back the possibilities of getting HIV by intercourse by greater than 90%.

The medicines, Truvada and Descovy, are made potential partly by a donation from the medicine’ producer, Gilead Sciences. That would cowl the medicine for as much as 200,000 uninsured people every year for the subsequent 11 years. The federal authorities, nonetheless, is paying the drugmaker for a number of months to distribute the medicines.

Without insurance coverage, a 30-day provide of the medicine runs between $1,600 and $2,000.

The initiative is a part of President Donald Trump’s effort to reduce the number of new HIV infections by 90% in 10 years.

If you have an interest in signing up for this system, right here’s what it is advisable to know:

Am I eligible? How can I enroll? 

Potential members should meet three standards:

They should check unfavourable for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. They want a prescription for the drug from a medical supplier. They should be uninsured or have medical health insurance that doesn’t cowl prescribed drugs.

The program is beginning instantly. Candidates can get extra info on-line, in individual or by cellphone. Online, go to Those can even go to well being suppliers comparable to neighborhood well being facilities to enroll. To discover the closest location, go to The cellphone quantity for info is 855-447-8410.

Once accredited, sufferers will obtain a 30- or 60-day provide of whichever drug their physician prescribed. The medicine will probably be accessible in a minimum of 21,000 CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid areas. Both medicines are once-a-day drugs.

The program will re-verify members twice a yr. They may also should be examined for HIV each three months.

Patients who’ve been getting assist for the price of PrEP by Gilead’s treatment help program over the previous 12 months are not eligible for the government-sponsored medicine.

Through this system’s partnership with the three pharmacy chains, sufferers can obtain counseling.

How a lot will this price me? 

The treatment will price the affected person nothing.

However, sufferers are required to bear blood assessments each three months. “Ready, Set, PrEP” is not going to cowl the prices of those assessments or clinic visits.

To entry low or no-cost therapy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar mentioned, sufferers can search care at neighborhood well being facilities.

Dr. Kenneth Mayer, the medical analysis director at Fenway Health in Boston, a neighborhood well being heart, mentioned this system is a step ahead in bettering entry to the treatment for many individuals. However, he mentioned, the lab assessments and clinic visits can price hundreds of dollars per yr. While Mayer considers the administration’s reliance on neighborhood well being facilities a “very positive thing,” discovering inexpensive follow-up companies requires the affected person to know the place to look.

“People can pull together various resources and get the costs covered,” Mayer mentioned, “but it’s knowing how to access those programs and services.”

How a lot will this price the federal government? 

Even although Gilead is offering the medicine free, different prices are concerned in getting the medicines to sufferers. Initially, the federal authorities is paying Gilead roughly $200 per bottle to cowl the price of distribution and shelling out the drug at pharmacies. By March, Azar mentioned, he hopes federal officers can have arrange a more cost effective distribution channel with the pharmacies.

Additionally, the partnership with CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens will cut back prices for the federal government by greater than half.

The program is not going to be affected by a lawsuit filed last month by the federal authorities towards Gilead over patent points on the PrEP medicine. The go well with is a part of an try by the federal government to decrease the value of the medicine.

Why is the federal government giving freely the medicine? 

An estimated 40,000 persons are identified with HIV yearly.

The federal authorities is focusing its efforts on 48 counties, the District of Columbia and San Juan, Puerto ― areas that accounted for more than half of the nation’s new HIV infections in 2016 and 2017. Seven states are additionally being focused to fight HIV in rural areas. However, the “Ready, Set, PrEP” program is out there all through the nation.

Of the 1.2 million individuals who may gain advantage from PrEP, only about 18% had acquired a prescription for the drug final yr, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

Dr. Brett Giroir, the appearing commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, mentioned officers estimate that as much as 200,000 individuals who may gain advantage from PrEP don’t have insurance coverage.

“We certainly believe that this program will supply all those in need who are uninsured,” mentioned Giroir.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially unbiased program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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