6.13 HIV prevention bill sent to Governor Jared Polis for signature 

Denver, CO — Yesterday evening, the HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill (HB20-1061) was given final approval from the House of Representatives on amendment language approved by the Senate and the bill is now headed to Governor Jared Polis for signature. This comes after a June 6th vote of 30-3 by the Senate on final passage of the bill.

One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans, released the following statements:

“In a moment when we are mourning Black lives lost to police and community violence, we also acknowledge the disproportionate impact of HIV on communities of color and negative health outcomes experienced by the Black community. The success of this bill gives us hope that we can protect some of our most vulnerable community members, even in times of crisis. Once signed into law, this bill will increase access to life saving HIV prevention medications for thousands of at-risk Coloradans who face barriers to care.”

– Daniel Ramos, Executive Director,  One Colorado 

“In Colorado, pharmacists are ready to help patients in increasingly meaningful ways and provide another point of trusted access in our complex healthcare system. For PrEP and PEP therapies, we know that despite their effectiveness, they are underused. Pharmacists are perfect for this role – we specialize in appropriate use of medications, know how to ensure effectiveness and safety, and tailor to patient specific factors. We greatly appreciate the sponsors and organizations who brought this important issue forth, and pharmacists stand ready to help with this effort to end the spread of HIV in Colorado.” 

– Emily Zadvorny, Executive Director, Colorado Pharmacists Society

“14,000 Coloradans live with HIV today. That’s 14,000 people with compromised immune systems, who have increased vulnerability to viruses like COVID-19. Both HIV and COVID-19 disproportionately impact communities of color, which is why this bill is critical to expanding access to preventative medications for those who need it most.”          

– Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City)

“We are in a health crisis. It’s just common sense that we pass legislation that improves the health of our fellow Coloradans. By increasing access to HIV prevention drugs, we are not only improving health outcomes, but relieving the medical cost burden (nearly $380,000 per individual) associated with HIV treatments.”

– Senator Kevin Priola (R-Henderson)

The Senate Appropriations Committee previously voted 6-4 on the bill along with a 3-2 vote by the  Senate Health & Human Services Committee. Prior to the coronavirus shutdown, the bill had passed out of the Colorado House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee on January 31st with a vote of 12 to 1, with Representative Larry Liston (R-El Paso) as the single no vote, and passed out of the House Appropriations Committee on February 14th with a vote of 9 to 2 with Representative Kim Ransom (R-Lone Tree) and Representative Janice Rich (R-Mesa) being the two no votes.

Utilizing data gathered from One Colorado’s 2018 report on LGBTQ Health, it is clear that LGBTQ Coloradans still face barriers to accessing health care services across the state. Of survey respondents, 62 percent indicated that fear, bias or dislike of LGBTQ people is a barrier for them to seek care. Additionally, 42 percent of respondents worry that their provider is not supportive of LGBTQ people.

When this bill is signed into law, Coloradans will be able to go directly to a pharmacy to receive either an initial treatment regimen of PrEP or a full treatment regimen of PEP after a brief consultation with a pharmacist. The legislation will allow pharmacists to dispense both PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) without a prescription from a physician. Pharmacists currently have the authority to dispense Plan B and naloxone without a prescription. The legislation also prohibits insurance companies from requiring patients to obtain authorization prior to using their benefits to obtain the medications and also prohibits insurers from requiring that a patient undergo step therapy.

More than 14,000 people were reported to be living with HIV in the state of Colorado, according to CDPHE’s 2018 report. Seventy-three percent of people living with HIV reside in the Denver metro area, which includes Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson. While the burden of HIV is heaviest in the five-county metro area, 27 percent of people living with diagnosed HIV reside outside these counties. The counties with the highest rates of HIV infection include Denver, Pueblo, Adams, Arapahoe, El Paso, Mesa, Larimer, Douglas, Jefferson, Boulder, and Weld counties. Of HIV diagnoses, 47 percent were among white, 15 percent black, and 33 percent Hispanic individuals.