The House of Delegates voted 111-19 on Monday night to pass Senate Bill 251, which would allow medical professionals to prescribe a pre-exposure prophylaxis that helps prevent HIV to minors – without requiring parental consent.
The measure was sponsored by two medical doctors: Sen. Clarence K. Lam (D-Baltimore, Howard) and Del. Terri L. Hill (D-Baltimore, Howard). It passed the Senate 47-0 earlier this month and will be sent to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) for considerations.
Advocates say the bill would help young people who want the drug but don’t feel comfortable discussing sexual activity with their parents. On average, three Marylanders are diagnosed with HIV every day and 22 percent of new HIV diagnoses in the state in 2017 were for people 24 and younger, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is an anti-viral medication known as Truvada that is taken by people who don’t have HIV but are at risk of getting it. The medication can reduce the risk of becoming infected by HIV from sex by 90 percent and among intravenous drug users by 70 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
“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,” said Dr. Raymona Smith, a member of the 1199 SEIU health care workers’ union, in a news release circulated by the union.
According to the CDC, Maryland has the second highest lifetime risk of HIV infection.
Maryland will join 17 other states that have passed similar legislation.