Special to The Dallas Examiner
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will continue to expand access to pre-exposure prophylaxis – known as PrEP – HIV prevention medications at no cost to eligible individuals without prescription drug coverage through a $4 million contract with TrialCard for one year with four one-year option periods.
Ready, Set, PrEP is a key component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. EHE aims to reduce the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 75% by 2025 and by 90% by 2030. The program will make PrEP available to uninsured people who have a prescription for the medication.
Although more than 1 million people at risk for HIV in the United States could benefit from PrEP medications, only a small fraction of people get them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend PrEP for individuals at risk of acquiring HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at reducing an individual’s risk of sexually acquiring HIV.
“Ready, Set, PrEP offers an easy way for Americans without drug coverage who may be at risk for HIV to protect themselves, and this new contract will support all the work that goes into making this experience as easy as possible for enrollees,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Ready, Set, PrEP was launched through a secured donation of PrEP medications from Gilead Sciences Inc., the manufacturer of the two approved PrEP medications in the United States. Albertsons Companies, Avita Pharmacy, CVS Health, Health Mart, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart have donated medication dispensing services to HHS in support of the program. Combined, these donating pharmacies represent about half of the pharmacies in the United States and are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The pharmacies will mail donated medications free of charge to enrolled participants. These pharmacies will also assist patients with medication adherence.
“By increasing awareness about PrEP as a safe, effective way to prevent HIV and providing access to thousands of people through the Ready, Set, PrEP program, we are bringing our nation one step closer to ending the HIV epidemic,” said ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., assistant secretary for health. “Simply put, we are increasing access to proven prevention interventions that help individuals reduce their risk of acquiring HIV.”
Under the contract, TrialCard will verify participant eligibility, enroll eligible individuals, maintain the network of participating pharmacies, distribute the donated medications to uninsured participants, and process requests for the distributed medications. Distribution of the medications was provided by Gilead Sciences Inc. through a short-term contract granted by HHS since September 2019.
To qualify for the program, people must test negative for HIV, have a valid prescription for the medications, and not have prescription drug coverage. All medications are fully covered for qualifying participants; however, the costs of necessary clinic visits and lab tests may vary depending on an individual’s income.
HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Center program will continue to support participant enrollment at more than 13,000 sites and 1,385 health centers nationwide. Eligibility requirements are available at GetYourPrEP.com or by calling 855-447-8410.