According to new research conducted by Core Research on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland published, 1 in 5 people are unaware of any HIV prevention methods. Specifically, 87% of people had never heard of PrEP yet 36% of people admitted that they would consider taking it.
The research was conducted with Irish adults over 18 years of age, with a national average sample size of 969 people.
The research examined several areas relating to HIV and PrEP, including the general public’s understanding of HIV and anti-HIV drug PrEP, the role of HIV and STI clinics, and the awareness and use of HIV prevention methods.
The research follows the government’s recent announcement of a new PrEP public access programme, which began in November.
The introduction of a publicly funded PrEP programme is a significant advancement in preventing HIV infection. The survey found that 70% of people believed PrEP should be available free of charge. A formal PrEP programme in place, as previously recommended by the Health Information and Quality Authority, would allow for a safe, effective and cost-saving environment.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a HIV prevention medication has been shown, in conjunction with safe sex practices, to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection through sex, particularly for those deemed at risk, such as gay and bisexual men, and transgender women, but also for heterosexual men and women.
While the research findings show high levels of awareness of HIV generally, opinion revealed that HIV is still considered a taboo subject in Ireland. However, 97% of those who think HIV is a taboo subject in Ireland also think there needs to be more information about it.
Key findings from the research include:
- 65% of Irish adults still believe that HIV is a sensitive subject.
- 93% of people think there needs to be more information on HIV in Ireland.
- 79% of people say that the first thing they would do if they found out they had HIV would be to visit a HIV clinic.
- 70% of people feel that the risk of HIV is not taken into consideration before engaging in sexual activity.
- 1 in 5 are unaware of any HIV prevention methods but of those who did know, only 2% mentioned PrEP.
- 87% of people had never heard of PrEP, but 36% of people admitted that they would consider taking it.
- 7 in 10 people believe PrEP should be available free of charge.
While PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI) or pregnancy, and is not a cure for HIV, it is recognised as a powerful anti-HIV drug when combined with condoms and other methods.
Teva’s Generics Director Paul Neill commented:
“The survey results point to a large knowledge gap of awareness of PrEP, especially within younger age cohorts who are considerably less aware of any HIV prevention methods. It’s important that the correct information is put out to those at risk of HIV and the general public.
“PrEP has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection in conjunction with safe sex practices, particularly for those deemed at high risk, such as gay and bisexual men, and transgender women.
“Equally, it is important that those using PrEP are going for check-ups with their healthcare provider once every three months to ensure that the medication is working as effectively as possible for them.
“The government’s introduction of a PrEP programme represents an important statement on the value of preventative healthcare versus curative treatment. At a time of stretched health budgets, when our health services have so many competing priorities, medicines such as PrEP can make a huge contribution to keeping people healthy and ultimately help to reduce healthcare costs.
“Further work is now needed to increase education and awareness of PrEP to ensure that patients have a better understanding of the healthcare regime that must support PrEP, such as regular sexual health testing. Teva will also work to expand awareness and knowledge of PrEP.”
For more information on PrEP, please visit www.PrepLoveLife.ie
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