GALION – Colton Underwood, 24, had an HIV scare in 2020 when his former partner revealed to him that he became involved with someone outside their relationship.
Though Underwood did not test positive, that scare was enough for him to decide that he wanted to start taking pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) just to be safe.
“I've had people cheat on me in the past. I just don't want anything to happen because, honestly, you can't really trust anybody nowadays, and some people lie about having a sexually transmitted disease. And then, next thing you know, you could end up with something,” Underwood said.
Underwood, a Marion resident, went to Galion Health, the closest health department near him that offered PrEP. When he met with nurse practitioner Sarah Miley, she educated him about the benefits of using PrEP and how it prevents HIV.
“She's just really good at explaining things, and when it comes to making appointments, she's always super flexible.” Underwood said. “The entire staff at Galion Health were super nice and treated me very well. They've been super caring and compassionate.”
A three month supply of PrEP for Underwood would’ve cost roughly $1,800 out of pocket. Luckily, Miley had a solution for him.
In 2019, the Ohio Department of Health launched the PrEP assistance program, Prevention Assistance Program Interventions (PAPI). PAPI pays for PrEP-related medical costs, including office and medical copays; copays associated with required laboratory work; prescription copays that are not covered by a patient assistance program; and medical services for people who are not eligible for insurance.
Underwood’s insurance covered his first three month supply, and after getting accepted into the PAPI program he receives his PrEP month to month. Due to what’s happened in his past, he’d rather be safe than sorry and take those extra precautions.
“I feel more secure, more protected,” Underwood said. “Obviously I'm still using condoms and stuff to practice safe sex, but I have something to also just help prevent from getting anything. It puts me more at ease.”
Those eligible for the PAPI program must be HIV negative, live in Ohio and make below $62,450. To apply, complete this short online referral and a prevention specialist will follow-up.