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New law will allow pharmacists to prescribe HIV prevention medications

Timothy with IL State Senator Mike Simmons testifying on HB4430.jpg
State Sen. Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, and Timothy Jackson, director of government relations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, testify on a bill signed Friday that will allow pharmacists to dispense HIV preventative drugs. order labs and consult with those patients."

A law signed Friday is expected to cut down on HIV infections among the hardest hit groups – Black, Latinx and LGBTQ individuals.

House Bill 4439 will allow pharmacists to dispense pre and post-exposure drugs and order labs. A doctor’s order is no longer required under the law, which takes effect immediately. But to order tests, consult and give out medications, pharmacists will need to take a course.

The law aims to get methods of reducing HIV and its transmission with the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis and PeP, which is post-exposure prophylaxis into the hands of people who may be hesitant going to an HIV clinic because of stigma, said Timothy Jackson, director of government relations for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

“You typically have to go to an HIV clinic in order to get HIV prevention drugs. And so what HB 4430 does is it increases access to PrEP and PEP, and allows people to go to their neighborhood Walgreens, or CVS or Walmart …wherever they get their prescription drugs, be able to get those drugs, and no one is ever the wiser,’ Jackson said.

The law will also help people with an inability to get to a doctor, perhaps because of lack of insurance.

State Senate sponsor Mike Simmons, D-Chicago, said in a release, “Far too many people in Illinois lack regular access to a doctor. Increasing access to these medications through community-based pharmacies will save lives.”

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the House sponsor, said the law was modeled after one in Colorado “ because that's the one that gives pharmacists the most ability to provide follow-up care. The ideal situation for any patient on this medication is to be under the care of a physician. But we also recognize that's not possible for everyone.”

Every sexually active individual should be on PrEP Jackson said, noting that it is 99 percent effective preventing HIV when taken correctly. “Whether you are Black, whether you are in the LGBTQ community, you should be on PrEP. Right? We know this, yet, how do we get it to the most people? We get it to the most people by removing barriers, why people are not currently getting it.”

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
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