PrEP access initiative introduced in sex-on-premises venue in world first

UK sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street, will partner with SweatBox in Soho for outreach programme - PrEPBOX.

A group of topless men in a nightclub setting

In a world-first, the sexual health clinic, 56 Dean Street, will introduce a PrEP access initiative prescribing and dispensing PrEP in a sex-on-premises venue.

56 Dean Street have partnered with the London sauna SweatBox for PrEPBOX – an outreach programme for young gay men. The clinic’s staff will be onhand to counsel, assess, prescribe and dispense the drug for free to SweatBox patrons. One of their doctors will take your bloods, prescribe your PrEP and give you a three month supply on the spot.

The clinic have shared that lack of awareness and difficulty in accessing sexual health services has added to the fact that rates of new HIV diagnoses in the UK are not dropping. To combat this, their Generation Zero campaign aims to reduce the rates of new HIV infections in under 25 year-olds to zero.

For their campaign, they explain that if you are 25 or under, are HIV negative, having sex without condoms and willing to test at Dean Street Express every three months, you are eligible for free PrEP.

For those not in the know, PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. PrEP is taken by HIV negative people before having sex (pre-exposure) and after sex to prevent HIV (this is called prophylaxis). PrEP is a combination tablet containing two drugs: tenofovir and emtricitabine.

In Ireland, despite a nationwide PrEP programme put into effect by the Department of Health in 2019, the PrEP access initiative is not as widespread as one would believe. Due to the absence of a HIV prevention clinic, Cork was excluded from the scheme.

Padraig Rice of Gay Project shared, “There’s a growing frustration that people’s friends in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford can access PrEP for free via the HSE programme but we are expected to pay privately for it in Cork. There’s a huge issue here around equality of access.”

Rice launched a petition calling on the Government to make PrEP available in Cork. You can add your name here.

© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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