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Human Rights Campaign backs use of daily HIV-prevention pill

The cost of Truvada varies widely; a New York State Health Department fact sheet gives a range of $8,000 to $14,000 per year. The manufacturer, California-based Gilead Sciences Inc., has a program that provides assistance to some people who are eligible to use Truvada but cannot afford it.

TruvedaThe HRC called on state insurance regulators to take action against any insurers who deny legitimate claims from patients who’ve been prescribed PrEP by their doctors.

The Human Rights Campaign urged all states to emulate Washington state, which implemented a program earlier this year offering assistance in paying for PrEP. The preventive option also was endorsed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he announced initiatives in June aimed at ending the state’s AIDS epidemic by 2020.

A prominent provider of services to HIV-positive people, the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, remains a vocal critic of the preventive use of Truvada. In an ad campaign launched in August, the foundation says many gay men fail to adhere to Truvada’s once-a-day regimen and describes government promotion of the drug as “a public health disaster in the making.”

On Oct. 10, an alliance of about two-dozen HIV/AIDS organizations in New York released an open letter to the Healthcare Foundation, asking it not to extend the ad campaign to their state.

“We believe your campaign could prevent people at risk for HIV from using this potential lifesaving medication,” the letter said.

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The Healthcare Foundation’s president, Michael Weinstein, said his organization did plan to run ads soon in New York City asserting there is data casting doubts on Truvada’s effectiveness.

“Censoring the discussion is not the answer,” he said.

Weinstein also noted that – according to figures from Gilead – only a few thousand people thus far have filled prescriptions for Truvada.

“If people really felt it was the answer, it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t have spread like wildfire,” Weinstein said. “It’s obvious there is enormous ambivalence in the medical community.”

According to the CDC, there are about 50,000 new HIV infections annually, with gay and bisexual men accounting for nearly 63 percent of them.

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