A Bay Area telemedicine platform called Nurx has launched in Wisconsin, providing home delivery of birth control and HIV prevention prescriptions.
Hans Gangeskar, co-founder and CEO of Nurx, says the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy estimates nearly 20 million women in the United States go without “reasonable access” to contraceptive options, and over 3 million live in counties with no clinic at all.
Researchers from the Guttmacher Institute found 46 percent of all pregnancies in Wisconsin in 2010 were unintended.
Through the Nurx app, users can get consultations and prescriptions from providers with a choice of over 50 birth control medication brands. Orders are shipped directly.
Nurx is also offering pre-exposure prophylaxis, otherwise known as PrEP, which can prevent HIV. Users of this medication take a daily pill to reduce the chance of infection, and studies have found PrEP to be up to 99 percent effective, according to the company.
The state Department of Health Services says taking PrEP everyday can reduce the risk of HIV by at least 90 percent.
In a video produced by DHS, a PrEP user named Jaymes says “it’s a daily ritual.”
“It’s the same thing as shaving, brushing my teeth and showering every day,” he said. “This is something I do to protect myself, and it’s something a responsible me is going to keep doing.”
“Like most states, Wisconsin continues to battle new HIV infection rates, and greater access to PrEP for HIV prevention can help,” added Alex Priest, head of branding, policy and communications for Nurx. “By offering both medications through our platform, Nurx dramatically increases access to these critical health needs.”
The Wisconsin launch means the platform is now live in 18 states and Washington, D.C. The company was founded in 2015 by Hans Gangeskar and Dr. Edvard Engesaeth, and is now available to over 70 percent of the U.S. population, the company says.
“State by state, we are launching Nurx to create equity in healthcare access for all Americans through this urgent telehealth option,” Gangeskar said.
According to a release from the San Francisco company, Milwaukee’s department of disease control and environmental health says the number of new HIV cases in the city increased 13 percent in 2017 from the previous year. And, the release says, Milwaukee accounts for about half of all new HIV cases in Wisconsin.
“We know that comprehensive education and PrEP access can significantly reduce new HIV infection rates,” said Jessica Horwitz, clinical development lead at Nurx. “Access to quality medical care is a basic human right and that includes access to these life-saving medications, regardless of where you live.”
Users of the Nurx platform don’t need to be insured. For those with insurance, prescriptions are either free or equal to the cost of a copay. And for those without, the company says “affordable brands and cost-effective generic options” are available.
Chelsea Clinton is backing the startup as its newest board member. In a statement, she says Nurx is helping people build better futures for themselves.
“By putting individuals in control of their personal health, and by starting with critical health needs like birth control and HIV prevention, Nurx is well-positioned to make a difference in the lives of countless Americans,” Clinton said.
See the DHS video on PrEP: http://hivinreallife.wisconsin.gov/understand-hiv