The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI) announced via a Student-Info email sent out on Jan. 24 that Kenyon’s student health insurance policy does not actually cover Truvada to be used as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP. This drug, when taken once daily, can substantially decrease the risk of acquiring HIV if you come into contact with the virus.
ODEI had previously advertised on its website and through emails that Truvada for PrEP could potentially be obtained through Kenyon’s student health insurance free-of-charge.
According to the Student-Info email, Equitas Health’s Institute for LGBTQ+ Health Equity conducted an assessment of Kenyon’s student health insurance plan over winter break and revealed that the information provided by Commercial Travelers to ODEI had been misleading: While Truvada can be used both for HIV prevention (PrEP) and treatment (PEP, or post-exposure prophylaxis), the student health plan only covers Truvada as treatment.
Despite this revelation, students can still potentially get PrEP for free through a patient assistance program offered by the drug’s manufacturer, Gilead Sciences.
ODEI and the Cox Health and Counseling Center brought Equitas Health to campus to assess student health options at Kenyon. Part of this assessment included looking for exclusions of aspects of care that might be used by LGBTQ+ students, according to Timothy Bussey, assistant director of ODEI.
Bussey said that this does not mean that Truvada is inaccessible to students hoping to use the drug as a part of their safer sex strategy. The College has been in communication with Gilead Sciences to be sure that all of its methods of patient assistance are available to students.
For students on the Kenyon health insurance plan, or on any other plan that doesn’t cover Truvada as PrEP, they can apply to receive the medication free-of-charge. For students whose health insurance does cover Truvada as PrEP, Gilead Sciences also offers a copay coupon program with a limit of just over $7,000.
“So if someone has, for instance, even a $50 copay and they’re on a different plan … that would basically knock their copay down to zero, so it would be free,” Bussey said.
Bussey emphasized that PrEP is just one of several ways that students can practice safe sex. “PrEP is one tool among many that can help develop a safer sex strategy,” Bussey said. “We do want to reiterate that PrEP is most effective when used with conversations about affirmative consent, conversations about sexual health and regular condom usage.”
He also noted that ODEI is able to assist any student in filling out these forms to apply for the copays or the patient assistance program.
Bussey added that more information about PrEP, PEP and other safer sex methods and resources can be found through ODEI, Unity House, Crozier Center for Women and the Health Center.