California puts the rest of the US to shame by becoming first state to provide PrEP without a prescription

HIV prevention drug Truvada.

California has become the first state to offer HIV-preventing drugs to people without a prescription.

The state’s governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Monday to expand access to PrEP drugs, which drastically reduce the risk of being infected with HIV if taken daily, and are recommended for use by at-risk gay and bisexual men.

The new law, which goes into effect on January 1, will make California the first state in the US to permit pharmacists to provide a 30-day supply of PrEP without prescription.

People who think they may have been exposed to HIV can also be prescribed an entire course of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), often described as a ‘morning after pill’ for HIV.

California governor: HIV-preventing drug drugs can save lives.

The governor said in a statement: “Recent breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of HIV can literally save lives.

“All Californians deserve access to PrEP and PEP, two treatments that have transformed our fight against HIV and AIDS.

“I applaud the Legislature for taking action to expand access to these treatments and getting us close to ending HIV and AIDS for good.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom

California Governor Gavin Newsom (Justin Sullivan/Getty)

The bill was sponsored by Equality California, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, APLA Health, Los Angeles LGBT Center, California Pharmacists Association, and California Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

PrEP expansion law furthers the battle to eliminate HIV.

Rick Zbur of Equality California said: “The HIV epidemic is still a pressing issue today — especially for LGBTQ people of colour and folks in rural communities.

“But with Governor Newsom’s signature, SB 159 is a giant step forward in getting to zero transmissions, zero deaths and zero stigma.

“By increasing access to life-saving HIV prevention medication, California — unlike the White House — is leading the country in the race to eliminate HIV.

“We owe a debt of gratitude to senator [Scott] Wiener and assembly member [Todd] Gloria for their leadership and tireless advocacy.”

Senator Wiener said: “To end new HIV infections, we most dramatically expand access to PrEP and PEP, yet far too many Californians who need these drugs struggle to access them. SB 159 will keep more Californians HIV-negative and help us end this epidemic.

“I applaud Governor Newsom for signing this first-in-the-nation legislation to remove barriers to these critical HIV-preventatives.”

Assembly member Gloria added: “Thank you Gavin Newsom for signing SB 159! This bill authored by Scott Wiener and myself will give Californians direct access to HIV prevention medications known as PEP and PrEP.

“This is a major step toward stopping new HIV infections. I look forward to other states following our lead. We can be the generation that ends HIV.”