New law puts pharmacists on front lines of controlling the spread of HIV
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 1/4/23-Rep. Gallop Franklin II, D-Tallahassee, during the the Banking and Insurance Committee, Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

Florida DOH data show that in 2022, there were 124,577 people living with HIV In the state. There were 615 HIV-related deaths that year.

Florida’s 36,000-plus licensed pharmacists can begin screening adults for HIV exposure starting July 1, and some pharmacists can begin to order and dispense drugs designed to reduce the risk of HIV infection under legislation signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Sponsored by Democratic Rep. Gallop Franklin, HB 159 puts Florida pharmacists on the front line in the state’s efforts to prevent the spread of HIV by allowing them to screen adults for HIV exposure and to provide the results of the screening. Moreover, the law will enable pharmacists who enter into collaborative agreements with physicians to dispense post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people who do not have HIV but are at a high risk of exposure.

“Florida has among the highest HIV infection rates in the country,” said Franklin, who added that DeSantis’ approval means that “Florida is taking a giant leap forward to put a check on the advance of HIV/AIDS in the Sunshine State. With this new law on the books, we will enlist licensed pharmacists in the health care army, working collaboratively with physicians in a strong partnership to save lives by reducing the number of adults with HIV.”

There currently is no cure for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which attacks the immune system, leaving the body unable to fight off infections and disease. If not adequately treated, HIV can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). There are two biomedical prevention
strategies to help the spread of new HIV transmissions. PEP, which is taken after exposure to HIV infection, and PrEP, an acronym for pre-exposure prophylaxis. As the name implies, PrEP — taken before HIV exposure — significantly reduces the risk of HIV infection. PrEP is available in two forms: a daily oral medication or a long-acting injectable taken once every two months.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.2 million people in the United States aged 13 and older had HIV in the U.S. in 2021. HIV disproportionately impacts specific segments of the U.S. population, particularly those who live in the Southern U.S., including Black and Hispanic Americans, men who have sex with men, transgender people, people who use drugs, and rural communities.

DOH data show 124,577 people were living with HIV In Florida in 2022. There were 615 HIV-related deaths.

The bill passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor on April 25.

Jon Harris Maurer, public policy director for Equality Florida, hailed the new law, which was more than three years in the making.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Florida to reduce new HIV transmissions when our state rates and HIV stigma remain unacceptably high. PrEP and PEP are among the history-shaping advances in HIV/AIDS prevention that our laws need to recognize. This law will make it easier for Floridians to take control of their sexual health and protect themselves and others,”  Maurer said in a statement.

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Richard D

    April 28, 2024 at 4:34 pm

    HIV infection is determined with a PCR test. If the person tests positive, then they’re said to have HIV, even if there are no symptoms. In other words, the presumed existence of HIV is determined by the PCR test result, and no symptoms are necessary for the diagnosis.

  • What happen to americanism

    April 29, 2024 at 5:32 pm

    Nothing is confidential.and. Pharmacy speaks over the phone

  • Richard D

    May 2, 2024 at 1:31 pm

    To add to my previous comment about HIV, if a PCR test shows positive for HIV, and if there are no symptoms, it is said to be an “asymptomatic” HIV case. HIV treatment protocol can commence right away based on the positive test result alone. The PCR test is regarded as the “gold standard” for detecting HIV infection.

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