The state of California will be the first state to allow people to take PrEP and PEP to prevent HIV transmission without a prescription.
A bill just signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom (D) will go into effect next year and allow pharmacists to dispense a 30- to 60-day supply of PrEP and a full course of PEP without a prescription.
Pharmacists will be required to complete a state training program before dispensing the drugs. They will also be required to determine if a person meets the criteria for use under federal guidelines.
The bill requires insurers to cover the drug regimens.
PrEP (pre-exposure prophelaxys) refers to when someone takes a medication in order to prevent HIV transmission, and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) is when someone takes anti-retroviral medications after possibly being exposed to HIV in order to prevent transmission.
A report from the California legislature said that the bill will increase the use of PrEP and PEP by 2% and prevent 25 new HIV transmissions in the first year of the bill.
“The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today — especially for LGBTQ people of color and folks in rural communities,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. “But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma.”
“By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California — unlike the White House — is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV.”
White men who have sex with men are more likely to know about PrEP and use it compared to black and latino men. The bill could ameliorate that by taking one step out of the process when it comes to obtaining PrEP.
Until just last week, only Truvada was approved by the FDA for use as PrEP. Last week, the FDA approved a new drug, Descovy. They are both produced by Gilead.