LGBT+ Advocates Advise NHS To Make PrEP Accessible To Everyone By 2019

A trend similar to the one we are experiencing in Ireland could begin to emerge if the NHS doesn't act sharp in the roll-out of PrEP for everyone who needs it.

PrEP falling out of a pill bottle

Leading UK HIV and LGBT+ rights charities have told the NHS today: you must allow everyone access PrEP.

32 groups have come together including the National AIDS Trust, THT and Stonewall to demand that the HIV prevention drug is accessible to everyone by April 2019.

Currently, the UK is currently at a tipping point in how it treats sexual health.

Transmission rates have dramatically dropped by 29% among men who have sex with men in London. However, at least five sexual health clinics have closed in London over the past two years – partly due to cuts to NHS and local authority funding.

This could see a trend begin, similar to the one we have been experiencing in Ireland. ACT UP Dublin found a direct correlation between the drop in funding for sexual health services and a rise in new HIV diagnoses.

Graph which shows the effects of the reduction in spending on the numbers of new HIV diagnoses

Across the UK, the NHS has begun a large scale trial which provides PrEP access to 10,000 people over 3 years.

The trial has only been in effect for eight months and 7,000 places in the trial have already been filled. Last month, the NHS announced it would add 3,000 places to the trial.

The trial was called out by the united group for being “limited”. Trans people and BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) communities are also at risk.

“A national PrEP program will not only meet an actual need but also provide welcome assurance to those currently accessing PrEP through the IMPACT trial that they will be able to continue to access PrEP once the trial ends,” the group states.

The statement adds: “NHS England must honour its commitment to commission PrEP in a national program. The trial was never proposed by NHS England as a means to only partially meet a need.”

Back home in Ireland, Minister Simon Harris recently promised a similar access program which will be rolled out in early 2019.

ACT UP Dublin have been trying to organise a meeting with the Minister for Health for weeks to discuss what the program will actually entail.

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