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Alabamians will now have free access to a daily medication shown to prevent HIV, the United States Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.

The preventative medication is made possible by the launch of Ready, Set, PrEP. The initiative will provide prophylaxis to Alabamians who do not have prescription drug coverage.

Although more than 1 million people at risk for HIV in the United States could benefit from PrEP medications, only a small fraction get them. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend PrEP for individuals at risk of acquiring HIV. When taken as prescribed, PrEP is highly effective at reducing an individual’s risk of acquiring HIV.

Ready, Set, PrEP is a key component of the Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America initiative. Alabama is one of the 57 jurisdictions identified as target areas for President Trump's initiative. EHE aims to reduce the number of new HIV transmissions in the United States by 75% in five years and by 90% in 10 years.

“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,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. “Thanks to Ready, Set, PrEP, thousands of Americans who are at risk for HIV, including individuals in Alabama, will now be able to protect themselves and their communities. The Trump Administration recognizes the vital role of prevention in ending the HIV epidemic in America, and connecting members of vulnerable communities to prevention services and medication is an important part of the president’s initiative.”

To qualify for Ready, Set, PrEP, people must test negative for HIV, have a valid prescription for the medications, and not have prescription drug coverage. All medications are fully covered for qualifying participants; however, the costs of necessary clinic visits and lab tests may vary depending on an individual’s income. People can find out if they qualify by visiting GetYourPrEP.com or by calling toll free 855-447-8410.

HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Center program will support Ready, Set, PrEP by working closely with healthcare professionals at more than 12,000 service sites and 1,400 health centers nationwide.

Recognizing the importance of expanded access to HIV PrEP medications, CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have donated their dispensing services to HHS. Beginning no later than March 30, as part of these donations, qualified patients can obtain the PrEP medications at the more than 21,000 combined CVS Health, Walgreens, and Rite Aid locations throughout 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands or through mail order at no cost. These pharmacies represent about a third of all the pharmacies in the United States.

CVS Health, Walgreens and Rite Aid will also provide patient counseling and take steps to promote patient adherence to the regimen. Between now and March 30, patients will be able to access PrEP medications through this program at thousands of participating pharmacies.

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