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Published on February 28, 2022

North Carolina AIDS Action Network Improves Access to Health Care and Champions Reproductive Rights

North Carolina AIDS Action Network Improves Access to Health Care and Champions Reproductive Rights | Cone Health FoundationOn August 20, 2021, thanks to the work of North Carolina AIDS Action Network (NCAAN), a Cone Health Foundation grantee, Governor Cooper signed House Bill 96 into law!

This incredible policy win happened because of NCAAN’s advocacy and partnerships over many months with the North Carolina Association of Pharmacists and leadership in both the North Carolina House and Senate.

"While rates are decreasing among white gay and bisexual men, new cases of HIV have remained stagnant for Black gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men, and have increased by 30 percent among Latino gay, bisexual, and same-gender loving men. Prevention efforts have been frustrated by limited access to health coverage, but HB 96 can change that by increasing access in counties with limited medical providers through a quick trip to the pharmacy," says Janeen Gingrich, interim executive director of the NC AIDS Action Network. "Ensuring that this care is available where people live and that it is easily accessible is life altering for those most vulnerable to HIV."

House Bill 96 would allow pharmacists to dispense, deliver, and administer certain medications, including post-exposure prophylaxis ({PEP} an antiretroviral drug used after a single high-risk event to prevent HIV infection), nicotine replacement therapy, self-administered oral and transdermal contraceptives, prenatal vitamins, glucagon, testosterone and vitamin B12 as well as vaccinations or immunizations “recommended or required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the bill says.

“The ability to receive birth control from a pharmacist reduces barriers for reproductive rights and broadens health care in North Carolina,” said Susan Shumaker, president of Cone Health Foundation. The bill expands access to health care particularly in counties without adequate levels of medical services to serve the population. House Bill 96 requires certified pharmacists to provide counseling to the patient before administering the medication.

Although the law went into effect on February 1, 2022; individuals will not be able to get these services just yet. North Carolina’s State Health Director must issue an order before these medications can be dispensed at the pharmacy level.

We are grateful to NCAAN and their partners for their efforts to move health care toward greater access.

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Cone Health Foundation is proud to partner with Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust on an update of their first-of-its-kind study: The Economic and Employment Benefits of Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina: June 2019 Update.

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