At the state level, HEAL engages the Maine Legislature, state departments, and statewide advocacy issues that affect our communities and others living at the margins of society.
Two major legislative accomplishments—increased access in rural Maine to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and Post-Exposure (PEP) and decriminalization of syringes and other safer use supplies—will have dramatic and significant positive impact to our clients and participants.
LD 1115 | Ch. 265
An Act To Improve Access to HIV Prevention Medications
Sponsored by Sen. Heather Sanborn, Cumberland | 130th Maine Legislature, First Special Session
Health Equity Alliance proudly worked with our partners at Frannie Peabody Center, GLBT Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and EqualityMaine to support passage of LD 1115, which expands access to a simple, safe, and effective medication known as HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) that reduces the risk of HIV transmission by close to 100%. This new law moves Maine closer to eradicating HIV transmission through increased access to PrEP and PEP, especially in our more vulnerable communities and rural health care deserts.
The new law, signed by Governor Janet T. Mills on June 18, 2021, makes Maine the third state in the country to pass this critical legislation.
The law authorizes pharmacists to dispense PrEP, as well as HIV Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP), without a prescription on a short-term basis. The law also reduces barriers to accessing PrEP by requiring carriers to cover at least one HIV prevention drug without prior authorization or step therapy, and by codifying in Maine law the federal regulatory requirement that PrEP be provided by private insurers without copays. In addition, by requiring pharmacists to connect customers with medical care for ongoing PrEP oversight and other vital health needs, the law will also improve overall access to care. Maine is the third state in the nation to adopt such legislation, which will allow the most vulnerable populations, including Maine’s rural communities, to obtain PrEP quickly. “PrEP is an easy, safe, and effective way to prevent HIV, and it’s vital that our communities have access to what could arguably end the HIV epidemic. PrEP is available and accessible, and our community deserves increased access to this prevention option,” said Orion Tucker, HEAL’s Manger of Sexual Health & Wellness Services. In a Community Position Statement in support of the legislation, over 30 organizations, advocates, and medical professionals explained the impact of expanding access to PrEP: Simply put, HIV Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a game changer in HIV prevention; it is a simple, safe daily pill that reduces the risk of HIV transmission by close to 100 percent. Obtaining this medication at low or no cost through any avenue that is straightforward and accessible is imperative for the most vulnerable among us, including people of color, people who live in rural areas, people who have been
incarcerated, and people who inject drugs and are working to stay safe. HIV Post- exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) is an equally remarkable and necessary medication intervention immediately following a potential exposure to HIV, including in cases of sexual assault. We need to do everything we can to expand access to PrEP/PEP and create more avenues to reduce HIV transmission.