Another fight against PrEP begins. On Wednesday Texas federal judge Reed O’Connor ruled that Christian-owned establishments should not be required to cover HIV preventative medicine because it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This act is commonly cited in legal cases where abortion and contraceptive access are involved. And we know how Roe v. Wade turned out.
a texas judge ruled that companies cannot be required to provide coverage for PrEP (an HIV prevention drug) because it violates their “religious freedom.”
i guess i missed the part in the bible where god said preventing HIV was a sin. pic.twitter.com/GsfB78niRt
— matt (@mattxiv) September 7, 2022
*sighs in queer
Six individuals and two Christian-owned companies, Braidwood Management and Kelley Orthodontics, didn’t want to cover HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, a.k.a PrEP, as they didn’t want to encourage “homosexual behavior”.
*screams in queer
Well, let’s talk about it. PrEP is an antiretroviral medication designed to prevent the risk of contracting HIV. Gilead Services’ Truvada pill was approved for distribution by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2012. A second tablet, Descovy, was approved in 2019.
The protection rate is extremely effective, with 99% effectiveness when taken as prescribed. Oh, and it’s not just for queer people. Anyone can use PrEP to protect themselves. Not just those engaging in “homosexual behaviors”.
Under the Affordable Care Act, HIV testing and HIV preventative care must be covered by insurers. Braidwood Management, Kelley Orthodontics, and Judge O’Connor believe otherwise. Judge O’Connor stated there wasn’t any compelling evidence dictating why “private, religious organizations” should cover medication like PrEP.
The battle for PrEP takes another turn with this recent development. When Truvada was approved in 2012, a debate ensued over whether the medication encouraged risky sexual behavior versus allowing others to take control of their sexual health.
Arguments that PrEP encourages “homosexual behavior” just fuels the sexual deviant stereotype plaguing the LGBTQ community. Additionally, stating that PrEP only encourages risky sexual behavior takes away from the fact that using PrEP forces folks to have serious conversations about their sexual health, screen for STIs, fight HIV stigma, and close the serostatus divide between those living with HIV and those who are not.
Todays TX ruling on restricting PrEP is a racist attack on communities of color.
It is queer and trans communities of color that are disproportionately impacted by HIV acquisition, more so in the South. Rulings like today are infuriating and designed to undermine our existence.
— ❤️🔥Kween Beatrix (@KweenBeatrix) September 7, 2022
Needless to say, the ruling is troubling as it can lead to a struggle with gaining access to medication that has significantly changed the way we engage with sex and stigma surrounding HIV.