We Call for Prescription-free HIV Prevention Medications

Originally Published: 10/14/2019

JustUs Health CEO, Jeremy Hanson Willis, has called on the Minnesota legislature to allow pharmacists to distribute HIV prevention drugs Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) or Post- Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) without the need for a prescription – following the lead of California last week. Such a law would authorize a pharmacist to provide up to a 60-day supply of drugs that are 99 percent effective in preventing HIV according to the CDC. Hanson Willis made his comments at the Minnesota Walk to END HIV on Saturday, the annual event that raises funds for HIV prevention and care.

“When we have the tools to end HIV, it’s a moral outrage that these drugs are not available for those who want and need it,” said Hanson Willis. “Every case of HIV prevented means another person, another family, another community not grappling with a lifetime of HIV-related medical costs, complicated drug regimens, and social injustice.”

State Senator Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), said he will sponsor legislation based on the new California law. “Every year another 300 people are diagnosed with HIV in Minnesota. That number has not changed in two decades at a time when other states are driving down their HIV diagnosis rates,” said Dibble. “Getting more people at risk for HIV on PrEP is an essential tool to ending HIV in Minnesota.”

Hanson Willis said he will launch a Minnesota PrEP Working Group, similar to one launched in Illinois, where HIV activists and community members, service providers, foundations and government work together to increase awareness of and access to PrEP. The working group would prioritize increasing access to PrEP for people of color, folks in Greater Minnesota, low income people, queer people and immigrants who are all disproportionately affected by HIV.

In cities and states where PrEP has been more affordable and available, like New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC, HIV infection rates have dropped by 23 to 40 percent.

“JustUs Health exists because we need more justice in our healthcare,” said Hanson Willis. “We need health care that sees the whole person for who they really are. We need health care that works for us – for all of us.”

View the full remarks from Jeremy Hanson Willis to participants of the 2019 Minnesota Walk to End HIV here: https://youtu.be/YedVXaPaPwo