ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation to allow minors to receive an HIV-prevention drug without parental consent.
This bill would allow doctors nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe a drug, pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as "PrEP" that helps prevent HIV to minors, without requiring parental consent.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), PrEP consists of a single pill called Truvada taken every day. Truvada can reduce the risk of becoming infected with HIV from sex by 90 percent and among intravenous drug users by 70 percent.
Advocates of the bill believe it will extend the life span of young black men living in poverty. According to the Maryland Department of Health, about 74 percent of new diagnoses among youth were black.
"I treat teens who need the protection of PrEP to save their lives," said Dr. Raymona Smith, an 1199SEIU member. "Without this medicine, entire communities are at risk for an increased incidence of HIV disease. As a provider, when I must inform an adolescent that he or she is HIV positive, it's a sleepless night for me, and I can't imagine the impact on them."
According to the CDC, Maryland has the second highest lifetime risk of HIV infection. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of youth living with HIV in Maryland remain un-diagnosed, which dramatically increases their risk of infecting others.
Maryland will join 17 other states who have passed similar legislation.
The bill now goes to Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for his signature.