On May 9, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Gilead Sciences announced that Gilead will provide free PrEP to 200,000 uninsured people on an annual basis. While there are many details to be determined, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is cautiously optimistic that this move will expand access to PrEP for people who are most vulnerable to HIV.
Free PrEP alone won’t move the needle toward ending the HIV epidemic. For many years, Gilead has offered free PrEP to people who are uninsured through its patient assistance program. While people vulnerable to HIV can access free PrEP today, multiple systemic barriers - such as associated medical visits, lab costs, and stigma - prevent them from taking it. We urge the federal government and Gilead to do more to make a substantial impact. Efforts should include immediately raising awareness about the availability of free PrEP through new or existing programs, making quarterly medical visits and labs free for people who are uninsured or face unaffordable out-of-pocket costs, educating health care providers to openly and honestly talk about sex with their patients, and addressing the stigma of HIV as it’s experienced by different communities disproportionately impacted by HIV.
This news comes on the heels of Gilead’s announcement earlier this week that a generic medication for PrEP will be available a year earlier than expected. Between the two announcements, AFC is hopeful that PrEP will be more accessible to people who are vulnerable to HIV.
To read Gilead’s full press release, click here.