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Publix Grocery Chain Reverses Decision, Will Allow Employees PrEP Through Its Health Plan

After courting controversy for denying access to PrEP for employees under its insurance plan, Florida-based grocery chain Publix has reversed its position, according to a statement on its Twitter account.

The outcry began when HIV news website The Body first published a piece on January 29 pointing out that Publix had been denying Truvada as pre-exposure prophylaxis to employees under its health plan. The Body was first tipped off when David Holland, assistant professor of medicine at Emory University and director of the Fulton County PrEP Clinic in Atlanta, had a problem prescribing PrEP to one patient under the Publix health plan.

“We’ve started 255 people on PrEP at our clinic alone, and this is the only person that we weren’t able to get PrEP for,” Holland told The Body. Once The Body published its account, several outlets aggregated the story, and Publix changed its policy.

“It is very good news that Publix has decided to allow its employees to access PrEP through its insurance plans,” Kenyon Farrow, senior editor at The Body, told INTO. “We are also pleased to have been the spark in a national story that may have helped educate people who may be interested in PrEP who have never heard of it. It goes to show that the public is still interested in knowing more about HIV, and media outlets can and should continue to do more about treatment or PrEP access across the nation.”

Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, praised the grocery chain’s decision, as well.

“We applaud Publix for listening to the community, especially since they are headquartered in Florida, the state that leads the nation in new HIV transmissions,” said Nadine Smith, executive director with Equality Florida. “We need business leaders to help us reverse that reality, not hinder it by denying access to preventative medicine.”

Publix has a long history of accusations for being anti-LGBTQ, as well, according to the Miami New Times. The chain fired an out gay cake decorator because of his sexual orientation, has discriminated against gay employees and took a surprisingly long time to extend benefits to same-sex married couples.


Mathew Rodriguez

Mathew is a staff writer at INTO. His work has appeared in Mic, Slate and Complex. He loves "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," Flannery O'Connor and female rappers and is working on a memoir.

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