Statement of HIVMA Chair Dr. W. David Hardy on USPSTF final PrEP recommendation
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s final “A” grade recommendation for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV represents a critical milestone for improving access to PrEP for individuals with health insurance coverage and to advancing the administration’s initiative to end HIV as an epidemic.
The recommendation, once implemented in 2021, will require insurers to cover PrEP with no cost sharing to patients. As noted in the USPSTF recommendation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals taking PrEP receive medical services every three months that include HIV and STD screening, laboratory monitoring and adherence counseling. Health insurer coverage of these clinical services as essential components of PrEP, without cost sharing, will be critical.
Newer options for PrEP, including new drug formulations, generic medications, long-acting implants and injectable formulations of antiretroviral medications, that are quickly coming down the pipeline, also will be critical to realizing the full benefits of PrEP. The USPSTF recommendation should be considered in conjunction with the medications recommended in the CDC PrEP guidelines, to ensure that these new options also are covered for PrEP after they are approved.
In addition to addressing insurance coverage issues, the USPSTF’s strong support of PrEP provides needed impetus to increase medical provider awareness of this essential prevention tool, and to address providers’ reluctance to prescribe PrEP.
Today’s announcement has the potential to markedly expand PrEP access and to reduce new HIV infections – a key component of the administration’s initiative to end HIV as an epidemic. The HHS can realize this potential by ensuring that the compendium of medical services recommended to support safe and effective PrEP are offered, and that new options for PrEP are covered as they are approved.