Massachusetts Medical Society: Testimony in Support of An Act Relative to HIV Prevention Access for Young Adults

Testimony in Support of An Act Relative to HIV Prevention Access for Young Adults

The Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS) wishes to be recorded in support of the House bill 1954 and Senate bill 1237, An Act Relative to HIV Prevention Access for Young Adults. The MMS is a professional association of over 25,000 physicians and medical students and advocates on behalf of patients for a better health care system, and on behalf of physicians, to help them to provide the best care possible. HIV/AIDS prevention has long been a public health priority for the Medical Society. Specifically, the Medical Society strongly encourages effective prevention strategies including the use of condoms, pre-exposure prophylaxis of high-risk populations, and sex education programs, etc., for reducing the risk of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Prevention and education are critical tools to curbing rates of new HIV infections. Massachusetts lacks mandated comprehensive sexual health education and there are no required standards for schools choosing to teach sex education. Public health data shows young people are disproportionately affected by rising rates in sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Young people, specifically LGBTQ youth, are disproportionately impacted by HIV, with LGBTQ youth of color facing the highest disparities. Indeed, 14% of all new HIV diagnoses are young people, ages 14-24 years old, and they are disproportionately Black and Latino.

While there have been some favorable developments in preventing the spread of HIV, the infection rate among young people continues to rise, and the uptake of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) as preventive treatment has been low. Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prescription medication that, when taken daily, is a highly effective HIV prevention tool. In May of 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Truvada as PrEP for adolescents, creating therein an opportunity to increase access to HIV preventive treatment for a group with a disproportionately high risk of infection. Massachusetts General Laws currently permit minors to consent to healthcare for many stigmatized services, including testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections and HIV, but not prevention services such as (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This legislation adds prevention services to the healthcare minors may consent to without parental permission, removing a significant barrier to critical care.

Facilitating access to PrEP is critical to helping decrease the rate of new HIV infections among young people. For these reasons, the Medical Society respectfully urges a favorable report on H.1954/S.1237.

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