From 1 March 2018, Gilead Sciences' drug Truvada will be available to eligible patients as PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) in pharmacies throughout New Zealand at the cost of a normal prescription.
After several news stories highlighted that Publix routinely denies employees access to HIV prevention medication and growing outcry on social media, the grocery store chain announced a change of course Tuesday.
The groundbreaking HIV prevention drug, PrEP, looks set to be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), drastically slashing its price and increasing its accessibility for tens of thousands of potential users.
David Holland, a medical doctor who serves as director of the Fulton County PrEP clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, said he became aware of the Publix PrEP rejection after he was unable to get a Publix employee PrEP through the company's health insurance.
HRC's senior vice president for programs Mary Beth Maxwell is encouraged by Publix change of mind about Truvada, "It is a positive step forward that an employer as large as Publix will now offer PrEP to its employees as part of their health care coverage".
The issue came to light when a website, The Body, reported that the former employee was denied coverage.
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"Truvada was registered for PrEP in August 2017, and we have worked closely with the New Zealand AIDS Foundation to support them in preparing a funding application for PrEP, which was reviewed by our clinical advisers and given a high priority for funding in November 2017". The man asked that his name and occupation be withheld to protect his privacy.
"We are also extremely heartened to see that Pharmac took on board suggestions to expand funded. access to include transgender men who are at high risk of HIV". That does not include treating anyone else the person might infect.
Human rights groups spoke out against the chain, calling its denial for PrEP insurance coverage discriminatory. Florida leads the country in new HIV cases.
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Shay hopes other employers that don't already cover PrEP will do the same.
"Whether or not it is illegal, it is misguided from both a health perspective and an economic perspective". "You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that it is better and cheaper if someone isn't infected".
She said that even though condoms are free by prescription and are highly effective, HIV infection rates are still rising in New Zealand.
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Still, about 1.2 million people in the US are HIV positive and 6,721 people died of AIDS or HIV in 2014 an 87 percent drop since fatalities peaked at 50,877 in 1995, just before the first treatments became widely available.