HIV Prevention Bill Passes Second Reading in Colorado State House

Denver, CO — Today, the HIV Infection Prevention Medications Bill (HB20-1061) passed the House floor for a third and final reading with a vote of 45-18, and is headed to the Colorado Senate for consideration. The bill 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.

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

“We know from One Colorado’s 2018 Closing the Gap health report that only one out five LGBTQ Coloradans has discussed PrEP with their doctor. Not only do we need to expand the conversation around HIV prevention, we need to increase access to it. As this bill moves through the legislative process, I am optimistic that our elected officials will work together, engage in meaningful discussion, and pass HB20-1061 with bi-partisan support.”
– One Colorado Executive Director, Daniel Ramos

“As this HIV prevention bill moves forward, we are hearing from the communities that will be impacted most. In rural areas, people are driving hours to their nearest doctor for these life saving medications, while 70 percent of these towns have a pharmacy within 15 miles. We need to increase access, and that’s precisely what this bill achieves by allowing pharmacists to prescribe HIV prevention medications.”
– Rep. Alex Valdez (D-Denver), Chair of the LGBTQ Caucus

“While we may not see headlines about the HIV epidemic everyday, that doesn’t mean that it’s over. With 14,000 Coloradans currently living with HIV and hundreds of new infections every year, we must continue to advocate for increased access to health care—especially for those who are most at risk.”
– Rep. Leslie Herod (D-Denver), Chair of the Black Caucus

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 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 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.

 

Rep. Alev Valdez and Rep. Leslie Herod on the Colorado House floor as HB20-1061 passes on third reading.  

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