Washington, D.C. – In a ceremony with HIV/AIDS advocates from across the nation, Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith (D-Orlando) was recognized at AIDSWatch by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundationwith their annual Legislative Leadership Award for his HIV advocacy as well as his role in recent negotiations with Publix Supermarkets to ensure its employee health plans covered PrEp, also known as the HIV prevention pill.
After reports that Publix was denying insurance coverage of PrEp, Rep. Smith and other advocates immediately jumped into action to demand answers from the supermarket chain, meeting with their representatives in the Capitol. Company officials confirmed the decision to deny coverage, but wouldn’t say if it was based solely on cost or moral objections to PrEp. In a huge victory for the HIV/AIDS prevention community in the South, within 24 hours of meeting with Rep. Smith, Publix reversed course. Read more in the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald, Huffington Post, and Watermark.
AIDSWatch, presented by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, is the nation’s largest annual constituent-based national HIV/AIDS advocacy event. AIDSWatch brings together hundreds of people living with HIV and their allies to meet with members of Congress and to educate them about the important issues at stake for people living with HIV/AIDS in the United States. AIDSWatch is implemented as a partnership between AIDS United, the Treatment Access Expansion Project, and the US People Living With HIV Caucus.
Rep. Smith offered the following statement:
“Our recent success with encouraging Publix to change their employee health plan to begin offering PrEp is a great example of how we can get things done when politicians are unresponsive to important issues facing our communities. I am extremely humbled to be recognized by The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation for our work to educate the private sector on both the modern science of HIV transmission and on how they can be responsible corporate partners to local, state and federal HIV prevention strategies. I remain committed to using my role as an advocate to educate the public and to help eradicate the HIV epidemic once and for all.”
Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith