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Publix will offer PrEP in their health plans after receiving backlash

Publix says they will offer HIV preventative drugs in their healthcare coverage after criticisms.
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Publix Supermarkets has come under recent scrutiny for their failure to include HIV preventative drugs in their employee’s health plans.

However, this week the chain tweeted that they have had a change of heart according to The Advocate

"Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. We offer generous health coverage to our eligible full-time and part-time associates at an affordable premium and are committed to the health and well-being of our associates and their families," the company tweeted. "We regularly evaluate what is covered by our health plan and have made the decision to expand our health plan’s coverage of Truvada to include Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). We are working with our pharmacy benefits manager to implement this change as quickly as possible."

The drug known as Truvada if taken as prescribed has been proven to prevent HIV infection.

Publix denied coverage of Truvada which has been approved for use as PrEP. Last week the company confirmed they denied coverage after meeting with Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Wrote Smith, "I met with @Publix's government relations team about their refusal to offer insurance coverage for PrEP, the HIV prevention pill for their employees." He then lists the topics of discussion and their responses.

Publix operates 1,169 stores and employs 188,000 people in the southeastern U.S.

The store has been accused of not being LGBT friendly; one employee claims he was fired for being gay and the company continuously refuses to take part in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, leaving them with a zero rating.

HRC’s senior vice president for programs Mary Beth Maxwell is encouraged by Publix change of mind about Truvada, “It is a positive step forward that an employer as large as Publix will now offer PrEP to its employees as part of their health care coverage. Publix has locations predominantly in the South, where HIV disproportionately affects the population, making this decision all the more impactful and necessary. We hope this decision by Publix will inspire other large employers to think seriously about ensuring that their health plans address all employees' needs,” said in a statement.