Publix to cover HIV prevention drug after backlash

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A decision to widen access to Truvada to prevent infection with HIV is a great opportunity to reduce transmission rates of HIV infections in New Zealand, says PHARMAC Chief Executive Sarah Fitt.

"In deciding to fund PrEP, PHARMAC has endorsed a key part of NZAF's strategic plan - seeing PrEP as a safe and effective way of preventing HIV transmission during sex, and one that could make a huge impact on the number of new HIV diagnoses in NZ - which was at its highest ever in 2016", says Dr Myers.

A major US supermarket chain says it will expand its health insurance coverage to include HIV prevention medication for employees after. "Now, we hope to see the same effect across the country, and beyond just the community of gay and bisexual men affected by HIV". When taken on a daily basis by an HIV negative person, PrEP builds up in the system and is extremely effective at reducing the chance of acquiring HIV through sexual contact.

A trio of Tuesday morning Tweets off Publix's corporate account read, "Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers".

Well, the most recent claim of Publix anti-gay behavior comes from a former gay employee who is suing the company for allegedly firing him after reporting homophobic abuse from his co-workers.

While denying coverage of PrEP is not illegal, Smith said Publix's old policy left it vulnerable to privacy lawsuits. He wrote that company officials confirmed the decision to deny coverage but wouldn't say if it "was based exclusively on cost or some absurd moral objection they have to PrEP".

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Supermarket chain Publix announced Tuesday it will include HIV prevention method PrEP in its employee health care plans, changing policy a day after meeting with Florida Rep. Carlos Smith, the Legislature's first openly gay Latino member.

On Twitter, Publix responded to questions stating that it evaluated "what is covered by our health plan and have made the decision to expand our health plan's coverage of Truvada to include Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)". "We are working with our pharmacy benefits manager to implement this change as quickly as possible".

"I think they know and understand that this is the right thing to do for their employees", Smith said.

According to Smith, the supermarket did not say if the non-coverage of the drug was because of cost or moral objections. Gilead Sciences, its manufacturer, estimated US usage at 120,000 people a year ago.

Truvada is already funded for treating people infected with HIV.

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