You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page.
Turn on more accessible mode
Turn off more accessible mode
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Turn off Animations
Turn on Animations
State of Rhode Island General Assembly
Weekly Roundups PDF Library
Recent Press Releases
About the Legislative Press Bureau
Printer Friendly View
Murray bill to reduce HIV transmission signed by governor
STATE HOUSE – Legislation by Sen. Melissa A. Murray to make HIV-prevention treatments free and accessible to qualifying patients is now law.
“These treatments can reduce HIV transmission to almost zero,” said Senator Murray (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield). “But because they are preventative, an at-risk patient with lower income may choose to prioritize other expenses, putting them at a much higher HIV risk. By reducing those high copayments and deductibles, we can help ensure patients get the treatment they need.”
There are two commonly used HIV-prevention treatments: pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Together, the treatments have contributed to a dramatic
reduction in HIV transmission rates
in recent years. But only about 25% of individuals at risk of HIV transmission are using these treatments,
according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
. Advocates point to both costs and access as barriers.
Approximately 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, which can be spread through exposure to certain bodily fluids from individuals who have HIV and a detectible viral load. If left untreated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a chronic, potentially life-threatening condition.
PrEP is initiated before and continued throughout periods of potential exposure to HIV. It was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012 and is safe and highly effective when taken as prescribed.
PEP is taken after a potential exposure, such as a broken condom, shared needle or sexual assault. If taken within 72 hours of a possible HIV exposure, the drug is highly effective at preventing transmission.
Both treatments are considered preventative, and free coverage had been required under the Affordable Care Act. But on March 30, in a case called
Braidwood Management Inc. v. Becerra
, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled, among other things, that this requirement violated the religious freedom of employers. The case is expected to head to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The law (
) requires the coverage of these drugs by health insurance plans at no out-of-pocket costs to patients. It will also enable pharmacists to prescribe them to eligible patients and outlines clear guidelines for which patients would be eligible.
Previously, both treatments had to be prescribed by a doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner. But as Rhode Island struggles to find primary care providers, pharmacies can help fill in the gap. Studies show that pharmacist provision of PrEP is well received by patients,
according to the AIDS Education and Training Center
. Pharmacists are often trusted by the communities in which they work and pharmacies have convenient locations and flexible hours.
A growing list of states including Maine, Nevada and Virginia have passed similar legislation. The
CDC has set a national goal
of reducing HIV transmissions by 90% from 2019 levels by 2030. Making PrEP and PEP widely available and utilized is a key part of that goal.
For more information, contact:
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request