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HIV Prevention Medication Can be Given Without Prescription, says New Law

As part of its efforts to address one of the highest rates of HIV diagnoses in the country, Nevada will become one of the first states to allow pharmacists to prescribe prevention medications to patients at risk of catching the virus. Starting Oct. 1, a bill signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak on June 6 allows pharmacists with sufficient liability coverage to prescribe, dispense, and administer prevention drugs without a prescription from a practitioner. In addition, it will include post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people who may have come into contact with HIV and pre-exposure prevention (PrEP) for people at risk.

Rob Phoenix, a family nurse practitioner who runs Huntridge Family Clinic, said, “One of the biggest obstacles, across the globe, and specifically here in Nevada is access. It’s hopefully going to bring an access point where patients can literally walk in, talk to the pharmacist about and their risk and reduction in a culturally competent and sex-positive way.”

Significant advances in therapy have been made since the HIV and AIDS epidemic outbreak in the 1980s. Certain contraceptives, like condoms, have long been and continue to be a popular and effective form of prevention. Still, the Food and Pharmacological Administration (FDA) has only recently approved drug therapy for those at risk of infection.

Truvada, a PrEP medicine that can reduce the risk of catching HIV by 99 percent, was approved by the Obama administration in 2012. It is advised for all adults and adolescents at risk for through sex or injection drug use, including persons with an HIV-positive sexual partner. Because the pill’s effectiveness for preventing infection through vaginal intercourse has not been examined, the FDA approved a second PrEP drug, Descovy, in 2019. However, the medication is only indicated for a narrower group of people, including homosexual and bisexual cisgender men and transgender women.

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