Florida health officials say the department plans to offer HIV prevention drug PrEP for free throughout the state by the end of 2018. Florida’s rate of new HIV diagnoses is more than double the national average, and health officials are taking a big step forward in tackling the crisis by offering PrEP for free.

Truvada is the brand name of the drug combination most commonly known as PrEP, which prevents HIV infection in high risk people. Taking PrEP daily along with the use of condoms can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As part of its efforts to reduce new HIV infections in the state, the Florida Department of Health began rolling out a statewide PrEP initiative in October. The drug was initially made available to 16 county health departments and all 67 county health departments should have PrEP available by the end of 2018.  Those seeking treatment will be clinically evaluated and provided access to medication by the Florida Department of Health based on their eligibility requirements, which includes financial status.

“Ensuring PrEP to those at highest risk for HIV infection, regardless of their ability to pay, is one of the four key components of the agency’s plan to eliminate HIV transmission and reduce HIV-related deaths,” said Florida Department of Health spokesperson Mara Gambineri. “Other strategies include increased testing for high-risk populations, access to treatment for HIV-positive people, and increased community awareness about HIV/AIDS.”

This new program mirrors effective initiatives across the U.S. and in Norway. MASS will be holding a PrEP Rally at both of our offices on Friday, January 26.  Free HIV, PrEP, and STD info will be provided along with free and confidential HIV testing. Gift cards will be given away, along with other free giveaways. Get more info here.