PHILADELPHIA. —Yesterday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force announced the publication of an article in which they conducted a systematic review of the scientific literature on HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, medication. The paper found that that all three forms of HIV PrEP medication currently on the market provide a substantial benefit to people at an elevated risk of HIV. As a result of this review, the USPSTF has now granted each medication – Truvada, Descovy, and Apretude – “A” ratings. Under the Affordable Care Act, any preventive intervention that receives an “A” or “B” rating from the USPSTF must be covered and provided at no out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
In response to this paper, the Health Department released the following statement:
“We are excited to see that the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force agrees with the Philadelphia Health Department in finding that PrEP medications can protect the health of those at risk for HIV,” said Division of HIV Health Director Dr. Kathleen Brady. “PrEP can reduce your risk of HIV by up to 99%. Because of that, it’s a key part of our End the HIV Epidemic in Philadelphia plan. By granting the two newest forms of PrEP, including a long-acting injectable, a rating of “A” it ensures that Philadelphians will have access to these preventative medications at no cost. This recommendation is a huge step toward ending the epidemic of HIV in Philadelphia.”
Currently, the Health Department can provide access to oral PrEP – for free – through their TelePrEP program. Philadelphians only need to participate in a televisit with a doctor, take an at-home HIV and sexually transmitted infection tests, and can receive PrEP delivered discreetly to their door.
Access to PrEP medications, like Descovy and the long-acting injectable Apretude, is much more difficult because manufacturers are charging thousands of dollars per month. People in Philadelphia have difficulty paying the exorbitant costs, which limits their options. The USPSTF’s announcement, coupled with the ACA’s requirement to cover good, evidenced-based preventive treatments, will help give Philadelphians actual choice in protecting their health. That’s good news for individuals. Policy change is still needed to help address this type of exorbitant pricing for our healthcare system to create a structure that balances the need for innovation with the need to restrain ever escalating costs of care.
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Division of HIV Health (DHH) supports work to end the HIV epidemic locally, focusing on communities at increased risk of HIV acquisition. With a commitment to health equity and racial justice, through providers across the region DHH supports comprehensive care, promotes awareness, and ensure that prevention and treatment are accessible to all, regardless of background or orientation. To find more information about service available to you visit the Philly Keep on Loving website.


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