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Washington Could Shut Down HIV Prevention Program

Washington state
Photo by Chait Goli

The state’s Department of Health ran out of money for the service.

Despite growing demand for Washington’s HIV prevention assistance program, the state has run out of funding to keep it going.

The pre-exposure prophylaxis drug assistance program (PrEP DAP), covers most of the out-of-pocket expenses Washingtonians need for HIV prevention medication, either through a once-a-day pill or their related visits to the lab or their doctor.

The Seattle Times reported that the program has stayed alive for eight years, but an increase in pharmacy costs and changes to health insurance coverage has forced the program to close to new enrollment.

With an optimistic attitude, program leader Elizabeth Crutsinger-Perry said, “This is not the news I wanted to deliver to my peers and partners. But I don’t see it as coming to an end — I see it as evolving.”

She went on to say they’d spent all of the money alloted for the year before the end of September because of the rise in pharmaceuticals. She said, “The generic drug is being priced differently depending on some factors in the drug-pricing world that I need to understand a bit more. We’re now working with our partners to set some limits about what we’re able to pay.”

While PrEP DAP expected to see insurance plans pick up the extra costs and force them to pay very little, the opposite has happened. At that, the number of uninsured patients using PrEP DAP grew nearly nine times in 2022.

The program’s $1.3 million per year budget is allocated by the state legislature from its general fund and PrEP DAP has aided around 2,500 Washingtonians per year since it first opened up in April 2014.

“I still believe we can innovate,” Crutsinger-Perry said. “We’re going to need some time… If I can extend the program to the end of June, we’d start new with fresh general state fund dollars in July.”

Unless additional funding sources are established, the program will likely close for good on December 1.

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