Our Pride, Our Health: Get on the PrEP Parade

Once again LGBTQ+ Pride season is in full force and online and around town I see rainbow flags, queer energy, and statements of support.  This year, I have a request – an action you can take – to express or share in the love of pride by keeping our health at the center of our pride: get on the PrEP for Pride parade.


You see, we need help with an effort that is crucial to ending HIV in Minnesota. It’s a medication called PrEP and it’s 99% effective at preventing HIV – more effective than vaccines for Polio, Measles, Mumps, Tuberculosis, or COVID. It’s a game changer, as they say.


Unfortunately, too few Minnesotans know about or are taking PrEP (Pre-exposure Prophylaxis) and many who do know face barriers to taking it. Part of the problem is cost: a 30-day supply of PrEP costs $1,300 to $2,400.  On top of the cost of the drug, PrEP requires a prescription, regular doctor visits, and regular lab tests. While PrEP is covered by insurance, those without insurance are left with a hefty cost. As a result, thousands of people who would benefit from PrEP aren’t getting the life-saving care they need.


It doesn’t need to be this way.


That’s why in 2021 Rainbow Health launched an effort to provide FREE access to PrEP – including free doctor visits and free HIV/STI testing. In 2023 alone we provided 1,985 prescriptions to PrEP for people across Minnesota. Access to this lifesaving drug can make a big impact on our goal to END HIV. In other states where PrEP is made more available, HIV infection rates have plummeted by anywhere from 23% to 40%. In Minnesota, there are too few of us promoting PrEP and the cost of this inaction is skyrocketing.


We can and need to do better in Minnesota, where we’re headed in the wrong direction and see HIV infections continuing to rise. There were 324 new cases of HIV in Minnesota last year – more than any year since at least 2010. HIV outbreaks in Minneapolis and Duluth have been our reality since before COVID or Mpox.


I’m asking for your help to spread the word and ensure more people have access to PrEP and a lifetime free from HIV. Together, we can:

  1. Ensure that PrEP is available to all who cannot afford it by covering the cost of the medication and related medical services.
  2. Tell more people about PrEP and its benefits and encouraging more sexually active people to consider this lifesaving medicine.
  3. Surround PrEP with holistic care including regular health check-ups, counseling, and adherence support.


Together, we can turn the tide against HIV. Your support will not only provide life-saving medication but also hope and empowerment to those in our community who need it the most.


To learn more about PrEP or donate to this vital effort, visit us at rainbowhealth.org, or text to give by sending “PREPMN” to 44-321. Your generosity will help us reach our goal of making PrEP accessible to all who need it and move us closer to a future free from HIV.


Jeremy Hanson Willis, CEO