Following outcry, Publix announces it will begin covering HIV prevention medication

The grocery chain will now cover employees' prescriptions for PrEP.

CREDIT: Getty Images/ Diane Macdonald
CREDIT: Getty Images/ Diane Macdonald

Following national outcry last week of reports that the southern grocery chain Publix did not cover PrEP for its employees, the company announced Tuesday morning on Twitter that it’s expanding its coverage to include PrEP as quickly as possible.

This is a very quick change of tune. On Monday, Publix officials met with Florida state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) and confirmed to him that they were denying PrEP coverage, but wouldn’t clarify why.

PrEP, which is short for “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” is a daily pill that reduces the risk of contracting HIV by upwards of 90 percent. It’s had a noticeable effect in helping lower HIV infection rates in big cities where it’s widely available. North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida — three states where Publix operates — ranked in the top ten states with the highest number of HIV diagnoses as of 2016.

Given Publix has over 188,000 employees across seven states, this shift could benefit many people across the South.