The Trump administration rolled out a new program on Tuesday that would provide HIV prevention drugs to uninsured individuals who need the medication but can’t afford it, reported Stat News.
The drugs can cost up to $2,000 a month for those without insurance, and only about 18 percent of 1.2 million Americans who could benefit from the drug, which drastically reduces the chances of getting infected by HIV if taken daily, got a prescription in 2018, said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
The HHS program, dubbed Ready, Set, PrEP, aims to expand access to and use of the drug PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, in an effort to end the HIV epidemic by 2030. Currently, approximately 38,000 people per year are infected by HIV in the United States.
“We have the tools to stop the spread of HIV in its tracks. It’s about execution,” said Azar.
Specifically, the administration plans to achieve that by providing free doses for qualified individuals, who must provide a valid prescription, a negative HIV test, and no insurance coverage. If accepted into the program, these individuals will be provided with a card that will allow the PrEP prescription to be filled at no cost.
The drugmaker, Gilead Sciences Inc., agreed earlier this year to donate the HIV prevention medication for 200,000 people per year for more than 10 years.
Carl Schmid of the AIDS Institute in Washington called the donation at the time “a really significant step,” saying it will make the drug available to uninsured people.
President Donald Trump also reacted to the news on Twitter, writing at the time that it “Will help us achieve our goal of ending the HIV epidemic in America!”
“Ready, Set, PrEP is a historic expansion of access to HIV prevention medication and a major step forward in President Trump’s plan to end the HIV epidemic in America. Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV will now be able to protect themselves and their communities,” said Azar in a statement, according to Stat News.
HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.