LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Expanding access to potentially life-saving medicine.
A new state law will allow pharmacists to give HIV prevention medication, also known as PrEP and PEP, to patients who are at risk of contracting the virus. It’s meant to address Nevada’s high rates of new HIV diagnoses while also helping portions of the LGBTQ community.
With the help of SB 325, the state is expanding access to HIV prevention medicine. Pharmacists are now able to prescribe PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) to patients at risk of contracting HIV.
When taken as prescribed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV.
Chris Davin with the Henderson Equality Center believes it helps address a huge issue.
“The biggest factor a lot of people suffer is not having access to locations to be able to get prescribed,” he said.
He says members of the LGBTQ community, especially gay and bisexual men have been hit hard historically, by HIV and AIDS. Davin says expanding access to include pharmacists provides a stigma-free zone for people to get their needed medication.
“At least you have a rapport with your pharmacist where with a doctor, it may be your first time visiting that doctor so it’s also scary because you don’t know who the doctor is and you're talking about sensitive material,” he said.
Nevada has one of the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses in the country, and in 2018 gay and bisexual men made up 69 percent of new infections across the nation.
“We’re also looking at an average of one per day of new infections in the state so it’s still a huge issue.”
Andrew Ryan with Aid for AIDS of Nevada says the new law, can help bring numbers down.
“For someone to go in and get one of those tools that much easier is extremely helpful and help the health of our community overall,” he said.
Davin says there have been advances in both medicine and acceptance from society as a whole in dealing with HIV. He says it is no longer a death sentence.
“To be able to come out, feel safe, feel secure and know that you’re not alone. You’re going to help protect yourself and get the medication that you need so that way you can live a longer life,” he said.
They also encourage everyone who is sexually active to know their own status and get tested. Resources in HIV awareness and prevention can be found here.
DAILY DEBRIEF: A deeper look into this story with Jason Dinant and Jeremy Chen