Pre-exposure prophylaxis (or PrEP) is when people at very high risk for HIV take daily medicine to prevent HIV. PrEP can stop HIV from taking hold and spreading throughout your body. When taken daily, PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV from sex or injection drug use. PrEP is much less effective when it is not taken consistently.
Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily. Patients take PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis, at a higher dose after having sexual contact with a partner to prevent seroconversion if exposed to HIV
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill that will allow residents of California to get anti-HIV drug regimens PrEP and PEP without a prescription. The new bill expands the authority of pharmacists to dispense between a 30 and 60 day supply of the drug Truvada, which is used to treat and prevent HIV infections, as part of PrEP and PEP therapy. The bill also prohibits insurance companies from demanding a prior-authorization by a physician before a patient can access the drugs.
Though PrEP use among gay men has radically expanded in the past few years, use of the drug remains low among the highest-risk communities, particularly low-income households and queer men of color. The new bill aims to correct that problem, offering PrEP to patients who have trouble accessing a doctor or getting the drug through their insurance. A generic version of Truvada will hit the market later this year, also drastically reducing the cost of adhering to the PrEP regimen.