New data shows that nearly a quarter of gay and bisexual men who tried to access PrEP via the NHS IMPACT trial were unable to in the past year.
Data from AIDSMAP shows that 22 per cent of people who tried to access PrEP via the IMPACT trial were unable to secure the HIV prevention medication in the last year. Those who live outside London were more likely to fail in their attempt to access the drug.
The AIDSMAP statement stated that the importance of access to PrEP was underscored by the fact that 82 per cent of those who tried to access had condomless sex within a six month period.
The survey was answered by 2389 people during six weeks between 17 May and 1 July 2019. It was conducted by Public Health England in collaboration with PrEPster and iwantPrEPnow.
Of those who answered the survey, 92 per cent identified as gay, 6 per cent bisexual and 2 per cent who ID’d as non-binary or transgender. 86 per cent of those who answered ID’d as white 14 per cent ID’d as BAME.
Marc Thompson, Health Improvement Lead at Terrence Higgins Trust, said, “PrEP is a key tool in the fight against ending HIV transmissions. These new findings demonstrate that PrEP isn’t just stopping HIV it is having an overwhelming positive impact on people’s lives. That’s so important to remember as there remains far too many people unable to access this HIV game-changer.
“The impact of not increasing places on the trial has been laid bare in this survey, with nearly one in five people who want to access PrEP unable to do so. While nearly a quarter of people who had been purchasing PrEP privately having to stop due to being unable to pay for the anti-HIV drug. People should not be forced to make a decision that ultimately increases their risk of HIV. That’s why there must be increased places on the trial and immediate action towards providing routine access to PrEP.
“It is concerning that only half of people who have purchased PrEP privately have undergone the necessary kidney function tests before or while taking PrEP. Despite the side affects of taking PrEP being minimal for many users, it’s vital anyone wanting to or currently taking PrEP has the relevant screenings. This puts even greater urgency on our calls for PrEP to be embedded in routine HIV prevention services.”
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, it is a drug treatment protocol using a prescription medicine called Truvada and has been shown in a recent trial to be highly effective in preventing HIV in gay and bisexual men, when taken daily and used in combination with other infection prevention measures.
Truvada contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) and is already routinely used in combination with other medicines to treat existing HIV infection.