Federal Way Safeway offers HIV prevention drug

Pilot program allows individuals to walk in anytime the pharmacy is open and meet with a pharmacist.

An HIV prevention drug that decreases risk by 99% is now available with no appointment from the Safeway located at 1207 S. 320th Street in Federal Way.

The store is one of only two locations offering the service in a pilot program, with the second location in Tacoma. Public Health Seattle & King County (PHSKC) is collaborating with the two Safeway pharmacies to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) more accessible.

PrEP is a “daily pill that can significantly reduce the risk of contracting HIV,” according to Safeway. “Those who should consider taking PrEP are people who have had anal or vaginal sex in the past six months, are in a relationship with someone who is living with HIV, have had a sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the past 6 months, do not use condoms or use them inconsistently or share injection drug equipment or have an HIV-positive injecting partner.”

“Our patient care department is always looking at creating new clinical programs and finding ways to help the community,” Layla Yousify of Safeway said. She is a pharmacist spearheading the program and added that “the current King County, especially South King County population continues to have an increased rate of HIV cases, so we thought this would be an amazing way to help them.”

The drug typically requires a doctor’s appointment with a primary care doctor or a visit to a clinic, then a pharmacy. This pilot program makes the process of acquiring the pill even quicker and easier by allowing individuals to walk in anytime the pharmacy is open and meet with a pharmacist in a confidential environment.

“During their pharmacy visit, people seeking PrEP will be able to meet directly with a pharmacist to receive counseling and more information,” according to Safeway. Follow-up counseling and testing after receiving the prescription is also provided.

The prescription is available at no cost to patients. For those who have insurance, their provider will be billed. For those who are uninsured or underinsured, the prescription will be paid for by programs provided by the pharmacy.

The pilot program will be considered a success and eligible for expansion if they receive at least one person who takes advantage of the opportunity this month, and if five total sign up before July, Yousify said.

When all goes well, “the expansion plan is for this program to partner with local organizations, and be the chosen PrEP clinic for our community,” Yousify said. “Our pharmacists are well informed about the local state and nationwide programs and have services available to the patient at no cost to them, and they’re ready to help.”

“By making PrEP directly accessible in select pharmacies, we hope this pilot can make HIV-prevention medication more accessible to those most at risk of contracting HIV,” David Green, Director of Pharmacy for Safeway Albertsons said in a press release from Safeway. “We are also aiming to help those taking the drug more easily stay on track with the recommended daily regimen.”