HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill Introduced During Colorado’s 2020 Legislative Session’s Opening Day

Denver, CO — One Colorado, the state’s leading advocacy organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) Coloradans and their families, released the following statement from Executive Director, Daniel Ramos, on the introduction of House Bill 20-1061 HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill by Representative Alex Valdez, House District 5 and Representative Leslie Herod, House District 8.  

“Thank you to Rep. Alex Valdez and Rep. Leslie Herod for introducing this bill to help reduce the rates of HIV infection in Colorado. While we have seen significant medical advances in HIV prevention in recent years, accessing these life-saving, preventative treatments remains a challenge to many Coloradans.

HIV can affect anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, gender, or age. However, people within the LGBTQ community, especially men and transgender women, are at higher risk of exposure to the virus. Conversations around HIV are deeply personal and can become even more difficult when considering the fear of bias and the lack of LGBTQ-competent providers in many areas of Colorado.=

This bill will increase access to preventative medications by allowing pharmacists, as well as physicians, to prescribe PrEP and PEP medications. With increased access points for at-risk individuals, we expect a reduced rate of new HIV infections in Colorado and, ultimately, we will end the AIDS epidemic.” 

– One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos

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.

“This bill is essential in the fight to end the AIDS epidemic once and for all. By increasing access to HIV prevention medications, we can reduce the rate of infection and ensure that at-risk Coloradans are protected against the virus.”

– Representative Alex Valdez (D-Denver), Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus, co-prime House sponsor of HB20-1061

 

“HIV disproportionately affects black, brown, and transgender communities, who already face disadvantages in accessing healthcare. This bill breaks down barriers and opens up HIV prevention medications to those who need it most.”

– Representative Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Chair of the Black Caucus, co-prime House sponsor of HB20-1061. 

When this bill goes 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 for 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. 

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