House passes HIV/AIDS bill 117-0

Photo courtesy: Healthline

Florida House members are currently working to improve HIV/AIDS prevention through House Bill 159 and its partner bill in the Senate, 1320, also known as the HIV Infection Prevention Drugs 2024. The bills aim to provide pharmacists authorization to screen for HIV exposure as well as order and dispense infection-prevention drugs.

If this bill is passed, it can potentially provide an earlier prevention treatment to individuals who have been exposed to HIV/AIDS, lessening the risk of contracting HIV or AIDS within a 72-hour window. 

Democratic Representative Gallop Franklin of Tallahassee and Republican Senator Alexis Calatayud of Miami filed HB 159 and SB 1320 in hopes of lowering HIV/AIDS infection rates throughout the state and helping to prevent rape victims, healthcare workers and anyone exposed to the disease.

“The shortage of access to HIV prevention drugs has left too many Floridians without this life-saving preventative medication,” Franklin said. “Making HIV prevention drugs accessible through licensed pharmacies is a crucial step towards broadening access and reducing HIV infections. This bill represents a solution that will bring these drugs within reach for those who both want and need them in Florida.”

Despite the unfavorable discourse surrounding HB 159, both Republican Representative Dana Trabulsy and Democratic Representative Jennifer “Rita” Harris assert that this legislation should not be underestimated because of the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS. They have said that passing this bill has the potential to save more lives in the long run.

Representative Trabulsy said HIV/AIDS can be contracted by anyone, and that there is no specific demographic, and anyone can contract HIV/AIDS. Therefore, people who contract it should not be stigmatized based on outdated stereotypes.

“But the bottom line is, AIDS does not discriminate,” Trabulsy said. “It is not necessarily because you’re promiscuous, or you’re gay, or whatever label you want to put on it. The stigma is still with us every single day.” 


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