Wednesday 14 August 2019
The British HIV Association (BHIVA) and the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV are extremely concerned that demand for PrEP is not being met, as reflected in the results of the third annual survey of PrEP users, carried out by PrEPster and iwantPrEPnow, in association with Public Health England, May – July 2019. It is shocking that the Impact Trial is reaching only half of current PrEP users, leaving others to source the medication privately, with those outside London finding it particularly difficult to access a place on the trial.
The survey results show that there has been no improvement in availability in the last 12 months, with one in five survey respondents still unable to obtain PrEP at all. This means that unnecessary and completely preventable new cases of HIV will continue to occur needlessly, affecting both the individual and the community they live in, and putting additional strain on public health budgets.
BASHH President Dr Olwen Williams comments: "It is essential that PrEP is made available to all those who need it, as quickly as possible. Ensuring equitable access will help to achieve the Government's commitment to end new HIV transmissions in England by 2030, as well as supporting the wider ambitions of the recently published Government Green Paper on Prevention.
"The survey findings also reiterate the importance of ensuring that our sexual health and HIV services are adequately funded to deliver the vital functions that people rely on them for. This is especially pertinent in light of the persistent Government cuts that have been delivered to the public health budget in recent years, and which are now having a visibly detrimental impact on access to key frontline HIV and broader sexual health care."
BHIVA Chair Professor Chloe Orkin adds: "We strongly recommend that PrEP should be available to everyone at high risk of HIV transmission. This survey underlines what we had already suspected – that many gay and bisexual men are being turned away as the IMPACT trial is not meeting demand. This has an impact on the prevention of both HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as those receiving PrEP through direct clinic provision were more likely to test regularly for both.
"It is not surprising that the survey shows the majority of respondents reporting a positive effect on their lives from using PrEP, as it removes the fear of HIV infection. Investment in PrEP is investment in reaching the zero transmissions target and it is wrong to deny this highly effective preventive medication to those who would clearly benefit from it."
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