California: Medi-Cal Drops Providing Condoms and HIV Testing as Conditions for Prescribing Truvada as PrEP

This article was reported by WEHOville.

WEHOville reported that California's Medi-Cal program, which is the state's public insurance program, will no longer require mandatory monthly HIV testing, condom distribution, and pre-authorization as prerequisites for prescribing patients Truvada, an HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). Medi-Cal's requirements sometimes restricted access to its subscribers, who are mainly low-income residents of California. Private insurance companies have covered the drug for some time.

California's leading HIV advocacy groups, AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, and Project Inform in San Francisco, hailed the announcement. "The Medi-Cal ruling is a game changer in HIV prevention," said Craig E. Thompson, executive director of APLA. "Appropriate access to PrEP through Medi-Cal provides us with another intervention -- along with safer sex and condom use -- to reduce the number of new HIV infections."

Research has shown that Truvada, manufactured by Gilead Sciences, is up to 99 percent effective in preventing disease transmission when an HIV-negative person takes the drug daily and uses condoms. The policy change came after discussions with Medi-Cal and the three aforementioned advocacy groups.