SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, PlushCare, the digital primary care platform that allows anyone to get care from a world-class doctor on their smartphone or computer, announced that they have partnered with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to make PrEP medication more accessible than ever before. The partnership will allow anyone in the state of California to obtain PrEP free of charge beginning June 7th, 2019.
PrEP (or pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a daily medication that is effective at preventing HIV infection in HIV-negative individuals. PrEP, which must be prescribed by a physician, works by interfering with the virus' ability to create copies of itself in the human body, thereby preventing HIV from replicating and spreading.
When administered properly, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting HIV through sex by up to 99 percent. Despite this, the CDC reports that one in three doctors nationwide do not know about PrEP, and many providers won't prescribe it to their patients. PlushCare is filling those healthcare gaps with its virtual PrEP Program, allowing patients to get on the medication by seeing a primary care physician through their smartphone, computer or tablet. To date, PlushCare has helped more than 8,000 Americans access PrEP via the PlushCare app, which is the highest rated telemedicine app in the App Store.
During a PlushCare PrEP consultation, doctors answer questions for patients, order labs and send prescriptions to the patient's local pharmacy if they are a candidate for the medication. PrEP patients with PlushCare check in with a PlushCare physician every 90 days to ensure they are still HIV-free and responding well to the medication. Now, through this partnership with the California Department of Public Health, PrEP will be made even more accessible to Californians who can't afford the medication.
"We're hyperfocused on providing every PlushCare patient with a WOW end-to-end experience, from cost assistance to navigating lab work to finding them the resources they need," said PlushCare's CEO, Ryan McQuaid. "Cost has always been a limiting factor for low-income and uninsured patients. We're excited to remove that barrier for Californians seeking PrEP. Additionally, this partnership will be instrumental to help us reach our 'Getting to Zero by 2025 Goal' (zero new HIV infections by 2025)."
Access to high quality, PrEP-trained physicians has long been a challenge for patients, particularly those located outside of metropolitan areas. PlushCare is helping proliferate PrEP access with its on-demand virtual solution. Studies have shown that same-day access to a PrEP doctor is a key factor in whether a patient begins a PrEP regimen or not. 95%+ of PlushCare's patients see a doctor in the same day.
"Bringing PrEP to those who most need it and can least afford it is an achievement that all of our physicians are proud of. People all over the country can access a physician who is an expert on PrEP, get the highest quality care, and avoid any stigma they might face from seeking care in person," said PlushCare Chief Medical Officer James Wantuck, MD.
PlushCare believes an excellent patient-physician relationship is essential to the prevention or treatment of any chronic illness. By giving patients access to fast lab testing and on-demand access to top tier doctors, PlushCare hopes to foster a healthier, more prepared population.