For Immediate Release
Sept. 7, 2022
San Francisco, Calif. – On Sept. 7, 2022, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled that an Affordable Care Act provision requiring the coverage of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) medication is a violation of religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993.
San Francisco Community Health Center is deeply outraged at what can only be described as a judicial ruling that hides behind the veil of religious protection in order to discriminate against marginalized communities.
PrEP is an evidence-based, highly effective prevention strategy against the HIV epidemic given that it reduces HIV transmission from sex and injection drug use by 99 percent and 74 percent, respectively. In 2020, nearly 1.2 million people were prescribed the medication. Nevertheless, use of PrEP is not distributed equally across demographics—with Black and Latinx communities having the lowest uptake due to barriers in health care access generally and persistent HIV-related stigma in communities of color. These trends reflect the disproportionate burden many BIPOC LGBTQ communities face as it relates to the HIV epidemic in the United States. The potential this ruling has in widening these disparities is staggering.
Judge O’Connor’s ruling is not a win for religious liberties but rather a perpetuation of homophobia and other stigmas that surround HIV transmission. This is a troubling sign that other preventive care mandates stipulated in the ACA are vulnerable to these same judicial attacks, including contraceptives, vaccinations, and regular health screenings.
Together with the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, it is important to note that these debates occurring in the judiciary are not happening in a vacuum, but rather are part of a systemic effort to cause irreparable harm to the most marginalized in our society.
SFCHC CEO Lance Toma said, “Now more than ever, advocates for health equity and social justice must work together to fight against these attacks and combat stigma and extremism with truth and science.”
For media inquiries, please contact Troy Espera at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About San Francisco Community Health Center:
San Francisco Community Health Center is an LGBTQ and people of color community health center that believes everyone deserves to be healthy and offers the highest quality medical, dental, and behavioral health care. We foster resilience, belonging, and healing for all communities. To us, health care will always be grounded in social justice.
For more information regarding available sponsorships or to learn more about San Francisco Community Health Center, visit https://sfcommunityhealth.org or call (415) 292-3400.