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PrEP May Soon Be Even Easier to Access in California

PrEP May Soon Be Even Easier to Access in California

PrEP Access
Photo by Krampus Productions via Pexels

The state already allows people to obtain the HIV prevention meds without a prescription.

State Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation to improve access to PrEP for HIV prevention in California and improve previous legislation that allows pharmacies to offer PrEP without a prescription.

The new legislation will extend the length of time pharmacies may furnish PrEP without a prescription. It will also require health plans to cover the costs of pharmacists’ time to prepare PrEP.

PrEP has shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sexual contact by more than 99%, which makes it more effective than condoms or any other preventative.

“PrEP freed millions of people from the fear of contracting HIV, a miracle of science that once seemed impossible,” Wiener said in a statement.

Despite some significant progress, HIV remains a major public challenge throughout California. “Each year around 4,000 Californians — disproportionally LGBTQ and people of color — contract HIV because of barriers to access,” said Wiener.

SB 339 will follow up on the first-of-the-nation Senate Bill 159 signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2019. SB 159 authorized pharmacies to furnish up to a 60-day supply of PrEP without a prescription and banned health plans from imposing step therapy and prior authorization on PrEP.

Surveys showed that previously, pharmacies struggled to uphold the law furnishing the 60-day window because health plans did not cover the cost of labor and the time period is too short to ensure referral to a primary-care physician.

“SB 339 will address the issues with implementing our groundbreaking legislation SB 159, allowing people to access PrEP without seeing a doctor,” said Wiener.

California joins states like Colorado, Nevada, and Utah in implementing pharmacy-provided PrEP programs. SB 339 requires health plans to cover up to a 90-day supply of PrEP as prescribed by a pharmacists, with ongoing supply contingent upon proper testing and follow-up.

SB 339 is sponsored by the California Pharmacists Association, Equality California, and the SF AIDS Foundation.

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