Many Health Plans Now Must Cover Full Cost of Expensive HIV Prevention Drugs

Ted Howard started taking Truvada a few years ago because he wanted to protect himself against HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But the daily pill was so pricey he was seriously thinking about giving it up.

Under his insurance plan, the former flight attendant and customer service instructor owed $500 in copayments every month for the drug and an additional $250 every three months for lab work and clinic visits.

Luckily for Howard, his doctor at Las Vegas’ Huntridge Family Clinic, which specializes in LGBTQ care, enrolled him in a clinical trial that covered his medication and other costs in full.

“If I hadn’t been able to get into the trial, I wouldn’t have kept taking PrEP,” said Howard, 68, using the shorthand term for “preexposure prophylaxis.” Taken daily, these drugs — like Truvada — are more than 90% effective at preventing infection with HIV.

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