The Florida Department of Health has announced plans to offer PrEP for free throughout the state by the end of the year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 92 percent in people who are at high risk. This groundbreaking decision will ensure that more people have access to PrEP and help reduce new HIV infections.
“Florida providing free PrEP in all 67 of its local county health departments is significant because it provides those who are most at-risk for HIV, but are uninsured, another tool in their HIV prevention toolbox that they did not have before,” says Daniel Downer, Early Intervention Services Program Coordinator at Hope and Health Center of Central Florida. “It also shows that health officials understand the important role PrEP has in the response to HIV and AIDS in the State of Florida.”
According to the CDC, Southern states accounted for more than 50 percent of new HIV diagnoses in 2016. In 2016, Florida had the third-highest rate of new HIV infections in the country, with 28 out of 100,000 Floridians diagnosed with the virus.
The Florida Department of Health began rolling out a statewide PrEP initiative in October, though 16 county health departments have been providing PrEP services for the past year, says Mara Gambineri, a spokesperson for the department.. “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,”