Last week, Florida-based chain Publix faced widespread outrage for its announcement that the company would not provide Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) to its employees. Now, they have reversed that decision, reports Bil Browning for LGBTQ Nation. PrEP, also known as Truvada, dramatically reduces the risk of HIV infection in those who take it daily.
Following Publix’s announcement, gay Florida state representative Carlos Guilliermo Smith called the company’s corporate leaders to his office to ascertain why they had decided not to cover the potentially life-saving preventative medication. The corporate representatives explained that their insurance generally doesn’t cover medicine for a medical condition employees might develop in the future, although they do cover birth control and children’s vaccines.
Some speculated that the reason for the exclusion was the company’s conservative leanings, as both its political action division and its CEO have donated to conservative politicians in the past. Publix may also be concerned with the cost of the medication, although its worth noting that paying for PrEP is much less expensive than paying for medication to treat HIV.
This is not the first time Publix has run afoul of the LGBTQ+ community. The company has a zero percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, and several LGBTQ+ employees have complained of discrimination.
Hopefully, the reversal of this decision will lead to greater inclusion and equality in the future.
Nadine Smith, executive director of LGBTQ+ civil rights organization Equality Florida, stated, “We are pleased that Publix has listened to the community. Since the news broke last week, we’ve encouraged the community to contact Publix directly by phone, social media as well as customers going into the stores to ask managers to fix the problem.
“The MVP though has to go to Carlos Guillermo Smith who, in addition to being on Equality Florida’s staff, is a State Rep. He sat down with company leaders immediately and demanded a second meeting when they couldn’t answer his questions. Publix announced their reversal in response to his twitter post.”
Read the LGBTQ Nation article here.