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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 31 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 44
San Francisco will help men access PrEP meds
Section One
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San Francisco will help men access PrEP meds

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors - their city and county council - voted on October 28 to allocate $301,600 to help locals access PrEP drugs. The vote was 10-1.

The money will go for San Francisco Department of Public Health employees who will work as 'health navigators' to steer potential PrEP patients through proper channels to get Truvada - the most common PrEP drug.

Health navigators will also receive cultural competency training to ensure they can serve all San Francisco's diverse communities.

Supervisor David Campos, who introduced the measure, said it was part of the city's Getting to Zero initiative - an effort to eliminate new HIV infections in the city.

'San Francisco is already a sanctuary city, so let's please make it a sanctuary city from HIV,' he said at the Board meeting.

While the proposal funds health workers to promote use of Truvada as an HIV preventative, it does not include money for insurance co-pay assistance to patients who cannot afford the expensive drug.

When Campos introduced the legislation in September, he asked for $801,600, but the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee reduced the appropriation to $301,600.

Campos said that he considered the health navigators the key to HIV prevention, so he decided they should be funded first. In the future, he said, the Board of Supervisors can still devise a co-pay assistance plan for the drug.

'This is the first step,' said Laura Lane, legislative assistant to Campos. 'We don't want to start something that we may not be able to continue in the future.'

Once the 2015-2016 fiscal year arrives, she added, the other portion of the legislation may be reintroduced.

The lone No vote came from Supervisor Katy Tang. Although she voted against the proposal, she did express support for preventive HIV measures and hoped money could be set aside in the city's next budget.

'I really do feel that this is something we can absolutely address during the regular budget process,' Tang said.

'PrEP is really one part of the 'getting to zero' initiative... and I think that it's really important for us to look at the broader picture as to how it is that we address these issues in our outreach efforts,' she added.

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