SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Last week, a federal judge ruled companies can withhold insurance coverage for HIV-prevention drugs, based on religious beliefs.
However, the Georgia Department of Public Health may be able to help if you are unable to get your medicine.
Since October 2018, DPH has operated its PrEP clinic to help more people gain access to the revolutionary drug that’s 99% effective in stopping HIV infections.
“We don’t have a vaccine, yet, that can prevent HIV, so PrEP is really a wonderful tool that we have,” said Dr. Gillian Greer with DPH’s Chatham Care Center.
The part-time clinic at DPH’s Drayton St. location currently accepts appointments on Mondays and serves only about 79 people who both have and don’t have insurance.
“Patients come in, they get tested for HIV. They also get tested for other sexually transmitted infections, viral hepatitis, you know, monitoring of their kidney function and liver function,” Greer said.
After screening, patients can then get a prescription for PrEP which stands for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Truvada and Descovy are common drugs used.
“It is not a requirement of our PrEP program that patients have, um, insurance,” Greer said.
And that’s the true benefit for many.
The PrEP clinic finds programs for patients to get the expensive medication at a lower cost, sometimes no cost at all. Greer said the pharmaceutical companies that make the medication, “do have programs available to provide the medicine at not cost to patients that are eligible.”
This local resource could prove invaluable after the Texas ruling. Though, we’re still waiting to see what, if any, implications it will have nationwide.