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Publix Grocery Stores’ Refusal to Provide PrEP Is Just the Tip of Its Anti-Gay Business Dealings

Publix, a Florida-based grocery store chain throughout the southeast United States, has reportedly denied its 188,000+ employees health insurance coverage for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a medication that is highly effective at preventing HIV. The Body reports that it’s unclear whether the Publix PrEP refusal is a cost-cutting measure or over moral or religious objections, but the company’s refusal has shined light on their other conservative business dealings.

David Holland, a medical doctor who serves as director of the Fulton County PrEP clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, said he became aware of the Publix PrEP rejection after he was unable to get a Publix employee PrEP through the company’s health insurance.

Holland called the insurance provider directly and said, “What we found out from the insurance company was that [the refusal] came, ultimately, from the employer. It wasn’t just an insurance issue; it was [that] the employer did not want it covered in the insurance.”

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When asked about it, Publix said that its “generous medical and prescription coverage” covered “numerous medications … used in the treatment of HIV,” adding, “There are some medications that have coverage limitations or require prior authorization.”

However, this answer is short-sighted, according to Devin Barrington Ward, a social justice advocate with the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS. He says providing just one PrEP prescription to an HIV-negative employee is far cheaper than providing medications and healthcare to an HIV-positive employee. Another HIV health advocate said, “Publix is a billion-dollar corporation, and so if they really wanted to [provide coverage of PrEP] they could.”

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The grand opening ribbon cutting of a new Publix store in Florida

The Body points out that Publix is a conservative company that has made donations to anti-gay Republican political candidates, funded campaigns against legalized cannabis and has “scored a zero on the Human Rights Campaign’s analysis of workplace fairness” in addition to being “accused of multiple instances of anti-LGBT discrimination.”

The Body adds that three of seven states with Publix grocery stores — North Carolina, Georgia, Florida — were ranked by the Centers of Disease Control as being among the top 10 states with the highest number of HIV diagnoses in 2016.

Update: The grocery chain has since stated that it’s working to expand PrEP coverage to its employees.

  • Judy Freedman

    Publix is supposed to be employee owned. Who actually makes these policies?

  • JellicleCat60

    Worse than Hobby Lobby and Dik-fil-a! I boycott!

  • D Waters

    employee owned just means the employee have stock, nothing more.

  • Susanna Iris Astarte

    Publix has always been bigoted. Gainesville Florida NOW boycotted the chain in the early 1990s for being racist. They either would not hire Black people at all, or would refuse to let their Black workers advance.

  • Tim Patterson

    Look, its Gawed Ordained Discrimination (GOD)

  • Tim Patterson

    clarification: The employees are forced to own stock in order to work there. 🙁

  • James Hyatt

    just to be clear this is anti-HIV medication or meds for people who are already infective.