After several news stories highlighted that Publix routinely denies employees access to HIV prevention medication and growing outcry on social media, the grocery store chain announced a change of course Tuesday.
On its official Twitter account, Publix said it will now cover Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)--a medication that reduces the risk of catching of HIV. Florida leads the country in new HIV cases.
On Twitter, Publix responded to questions stating that it evaluated "what is covered by our health plan and have made the decision to expand our health plan’s coverage of Truvada to include Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). We are working with our pharmacy benefits manager to implement this change as quickly as possible."
Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. We offer generous health coverage to our eligible full-time and part-time associates at an affordable premium and are committed to the health and well-being of our associates and their families.
We... 1/3— Publix (@Publix) February 6, 2018
The change in policy came less than 24 hours after the store's representatives met with state Rep. Carlos Smith, an Orlando Democrat. During their meeting, Publix confirmed they did not cover PrEp.
According to Smith, the decision not to cover the HIV prevention drug came directly from the chain and not the medical insurance companies that cover employees.
I met with @Publix's government relations team about their refusal to offer insurance coverage for PrEP, the HIV prevention pill for their employees. Here's how it went. #Sayfie pic.twitter.com/nKvKTDDsCM— Rep. Carlos G Smith (@CarlosGSmith) February 6, 2018
HIV cases in Florida have been on the rise since 2012, according to the state's Department of Health. Miami-Dade and Broward counties were Nos. 1 and 2 in the U.S. in new HIV infections in 2014 per 100,000 residents, according to state and federal data.