It’s been a busy couple of weeks on the PrEP scene in the UK, with two campaign launches and a call for action from a national HIV charity. So what’s going on?
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a revolution in the way HIV- people can protect themselves, the pill (currently Truvada) taken daily has been shown to be highly effective at preventing HIV infection both in the lab and in real life studies.
Last week saw the launch of two new websites and campaigns around access to PrEP, and a statement from the National AIDS Trust. So let’s take a look at all three.
First up, Prepster
Prepster’s purpose is to educate and agitate for access to PrEP on the NHS.
Although available on private prescription, PrEP is not yet available on the NHS, despite calls from the World Health Organization and The Lancet for it to be made available to those most might likely to be exposed to HIV.
“Across the summer we’ve talked to hundreds of people about PrEP and there’s a huge thirst to know more about it,” said Marc Thompson, co-founder of PrEPster.info. “PrEPster.info provides information about PrEP to help people decide if PrEP is right for them or their sexual partners.”
Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster.info added, “PrEPster.info provides some of the information, tools and resources to take action to make PrEP available. Until now PrEP activism has been confined to small groups of people. With this website we’re taking that PrEP activism to much broader communities of people.”
Along side this sexual health and HIV clinic 56 Dean Street has announced that they’ll provide the services, such as kidney and liver tests, to support those in the community taking PReP.
Find out more at: prepster.info
Tired of waiting? Want PrEP now?
Launched the same week is ‘I Want PrEP Now’, a UK based website set up by HIV treatment activists Greg Owen and Alex Craddock
The website takes users through the basics of PrEP – what it is, how it works, how you use it, and how effective it is. After all that, if you think PrEP is right for you then site then talks users through how you go about starting PrEP. This involves getting tested for HIV before commencing PrEP and how to get your liver and kidney functions tested.
After that users are given a rundown of where to get hold of PrEP – including numerous online pharmacies that have been vetted by the website to ensure the product you are getting, usually Tenvir-EM (the generic form of Truvada), is what you think it is.
For those interested in the legal standing of importing your own PrEP check out this piece from i-base: http://i-base.info/qa/10734
Greg Owen told beyondpositive: “It was my situation – finding out I was HIV positive on the day that I was due to start Truvada as PrEP which I had struggled to find but eventually did. It was ironic that after I found it it was too late to use it to keep me negative (just by a few months) . Meanwhile Alex (Craddock), who was already on PrEP which he got whilst he was over in the states, was struggling to get his next three month batch.”
“During that time I was speaking at a lot of events like ‘Let’s talk about gay and drugs’ and was very vocal online about pushing for access to PrEP, because of this I was getting several calls and messages a day from guys who wanted PrEP and thought I would know the specifics – the who, where, when, why and importantly HOW to get it. I spoke with Alex, saying I didn’t have the capacity to be a PrEP call centre. We agreed that it was ridiculous that all of the information and links to buy it were not in one place. We though thatt people should be given some help in trying to use PrEP as part of HIV safer sex. It was clear we needed to set up a website.”
Find out more at: iwantprepnow.co.uk
National AIDS Trust (NAT) calls for the NHS to make PrEP available on NHS without delay
There were 6,151 new HIV diagnoses in 2014, including the highest number on record among gay and bisexual men, (3,360) – Public Health England has announced.
Yusef Azad, Director of Strategy at NAT, said: “We are seeing nine gay men getting an HIV diagnosis every day, which is nine too many. Important prevention work goes on, and without it the HIV rates would be even higher. But the reality is current prevention work is making no dent on these numbers.
“We can look at the example of San Francisco for what works, last year the city saw its lowest number of new HIV diagnoses on record. And since 2012, when PrEP was introduced, new diagnoses have dropped by 30 percent. This is what we need to be doing.
“PrEP is an essential additional prevention option for people at high HIV risk, and it is a scandal they still can’t access it here in the UK. A significant percentage of those 6,151 people diagnosed last year would be still be HIV negative if they had taken PrEP.
“NAT is calling on the NHS to provide PrEP without delay. For as long as the NHS fails to provide PrEP it remains accountable for the unacceptably high number of people getting HIV on its watch.”
PrEP has been available in the US since 2012. It is still impossible to get it on the NHS in the UK.
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