A Federal Judge Has Ruled Mandatory PrEP Coverage Violates Religious Beliefs and We Couldn’t Agree Less

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 drugs because they violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This law is commonly cited in legal cases where abortion and access to contraception are involved. And we know how Roe vs. Wade proved.

* sighs strangely

Six people and two Christian-owned companies, Braidwood Management and Kelley Orthodontics, didn’t want to cover HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis, aka PrEP, because they didn’t want to encourage “homosexual behavior.”

*screams fagot

Well, let’s talk about it. PrEP is an antiretroviral drug 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 rate of protection is extremely effective, with 99% effectiveness when taken as prescribed. Oh, and it’s not just for gay people. Anyone can use PrEP to protect themselves. Not just those who engage in “homosexual behavior”.

Under the Affordable Care Act, HIV testing and HIV preventive care must be covered by insurers. Braidwood Management, Kelley Orthodontics and Judge O’Connor think otherwise. Justice O’Connor said there was no compelling evidence as to why “private religious organizations” should cover drugs 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 drug encouraged risky sexual behavior or allowed others to take control of their sexual health.

Arguments that PrEP encourages “homosexual behavior” only fuel the deviant gender stereotype that plagues the LGBTQ community. Also, stating that PrEP only encourages risky sexual behavior takes away the fact that using PrEP forces people to have serious conversations on their sexual health, screen for STIs, fight HIV-related stigma and bridge the HIV gap between people living with HIV and those who are not.

Needless to say, the decision is troubling as it may lead to a struggle to access drugs that has dramatically changed the way we engage with sex and the stigma surrounding HIV.