Uninsured Americans Get Free HIV Prevention Drugs Under Health Program
The Trump administration has launched a new program to provide the uninsured with drugs for preventing HIV infections, according to a report by The Associated Press (AP).
The new program hopes to expand access to drugs known as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). This comes as part of an initiative by the Trump administration to stamp out the HIV epidemic in the U.S by 2030.
Correct use of PrEP can go a long way in helping to guard against new infections. However, millions of people in the U.S. lack access to the drug due to high costs.
“We have the tools to stop the spread of HIV in its tracks. It’s about execution,” said Alex Azar, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Furthermore, Azar disclosed that only roughly 18 percent of the 1.2 million people in America who could have benefited from the drugs got a prescription last year.
Now, the new health program will make it easier for the uninsured to get the medications to protect against infections.
Estimates show that there are around 38,000 new cases of HIV infection in the U.S. every year. Limited access to PrEP is possibly a factor in the number remaining that high.
The current administration has the aim of cutting the rate of new infections by 75 percent in the next five years. Its goal is to reduce new cases in any year by 90 percent in 10 years.
However, the high costs of getting PrEP are a big issue. More people are now using the drugs, but the bulk of those who could benefit still lack access.
People who have insurance often find it difficult to pay for PrEP. This is more of an issue for those with plans that have high deductibles.
It is even harder for the uninsured to get HIV prevention drugs. This group may have to part with up to $2,000 every month to access them.
Help for the Uninsured
The new health program, set to run for a period of 10 years, will afford up to 200,000 persons annually an opportunity to access PrEP for free, without insurance.
Drugs to be given out will be donated by Gilead Sciences Inc. The Foster City, California-based drug company offers the only two PrEP brands that are approved in America. These two brands are Truvada and Descovy.
Uninsured individuals who wish to benefit from this program can apply for the medications via the website GetYourPrEP.com. They need to be HIV-negative and have a valid prescription for the drugs to be eligible. They must have no prescription drug insurance coverage.
Approved applicants will get a card that enables them to get the drugs free of charge at their pharmacy. The card will carry an identification number, according to officials.
Although the HHS filed a lawsuit against Gilead for patent infringement not long ago, claiming that taxpayers’ money was used to fund research that had led to the discovery that certain drugs for treating HIV may also avert it.
However, this lawsuit did not affect the drug maker’s donation, which was announced in May, according to Azar.