The Hill

New California Law Cuts Need For Prescription To Get HIV Prevention Drugs

Pharmacies in California will soon start providing HIV prevention drugs without a prescription. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) has signed a bill that aims to increase access to the medications and reduce cases of infection across the state. 

Senate Bill 159 became law on Monday, a few weeks after the California state Legislature agreed on its approval. The move makes the state the first in the country to allow the sale of over-the-counter HIV prevention drugs, ABC News reported.

Residents, starting Jan. 1, 2020, will be allowed to get PrEP and PEP medications without presenting a physician’s prescription. Newsom’s office also noted the law will prohibit insurance companies from requiring prior authorizations to get PrEP coverage.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes PrEP as highly effective drugs against HIV. Studies showed that regular intake of the medication could reduce the risk of contracting the infection from sex by nearly 99 percent.

On the other hand are PEP drugs. It is commonly taken immediately after an individual gets exposed to the virus.  

The CDC said PEP drugs must be used “only in emergency situations” within 72 hours after possible exposure to HIV.

California residents “deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS,” Newsom said in a statement. “I applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us closer to ending HIV and AIDS for good.” 

Under the new law, pharmacists can provide up to a 60-day supply of PrEP and full doses of PEP, The New York Times reported. However, patients must present a proof of testing negative for HIV.

“The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today — especially for LGBTQ people of color and folks in rural communities,” Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said. “But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma.”

He added the law that would expand access to HIV prevention drugs in California will put the state ahead of nationwide efforts to eliminate the disease. 

HIV PrEP Drug The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes PrEP as highly effective drugs against HIV with studies showing it could reduce the risk of infection from sex by nearly 99 percent. Pixabay