A gay man in New York was initially denied Truvada, the PrEP medication that can prevent the transmission of AIDS, by his insurance company on the grounds that he was too "high risk" due to his sexual orientation. Although the insurance company, UnitedHealthcare, has now reversed this decision, the event stands as an example of the prejudice that many in the LGBT community face in healthcare, activists argue.

Last week, a letter denying a gay man access to Truvada for PrEP based on his “high-risk homosexual behavior,” went viral on Facebook. The man, who chose to remain anonymous, was given a prescription for Truvada from his doctor. However, unlike most prescription drugs that simply require a doctor’s note, in order for Truvada to be covered by some health insurances companies, it also needs a “prior authorization” from the company itself, Refinery29 reported.

Read: Transgender People Face Discrimination In Health Care

Truvada PrEP is a once daily medication that helps to reduce the risk of getting HIV, and according to the drug’s website, is only meant for use by adults who are already at high risk of getting HIV through sex.

Prior authorization is a way for health insurance companies to discourage doctors from prescribing more costly medications, and therefore help the companies save money, The New York Times reported. While doctors can appeal a denial, and often do, the process is long and arduous, and can discourage some doctors from challenging the health insurance companies.

Following the publication of UnitedHealthcare’s letter, thanks to a Facebook post shared by James Krellenstein, an active member of AIDS coalition ACT UP, the company reversed its decision.

"We apologize for the insensitive language appearing in the letter and regret any difficulty it caused. We have corrected our letters, removed the prior authorization requirement for Truvada and members can fill their prescription at the network pharmacy of their choice," the company said in a statement shared with Refinery29.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the LGBT community has faced discrimination by healthcare providers. One study cited that 42 percent of female-to-male transgender adults have reported being confronted with verbal harassment, physical assault, or denial of treatment altogether at hospitals and doctors’ offices. The researchers emphasize that these numbers are likely vastly underestimated as the majority of the transgender men involved in the study were young, white, college-educated people with jobs and private health insurance. The numbers likely would be higher if other demographics were taken into account.

In addition, a 2016 study found that, overall, healthcare providers had a moderate to strong preference for heterosexual patients. Based on these findings, the study suggests that there may be a need for healthcare providers to be trained in how to treat sexual minority patients.

See Also:

LGBT Discrimination In Health Care: Heterosexual Providers Found To Hold Bias On Sexual Orientation

Why Discrimination Against Gays Is A Global Health Hazard: Anti-LGBT Laws Promote Violence, Limit Treatment