Third of GBT+ community in UK use PrEP without professional support

A survey on PrEP in the UK highlights the necessity for better circulation of the medication as significant number of GBT+ community buy it online.

Man about to take PrEP

A third of the GBT+ community in the UK are purchasing PrEP (HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis) online without medical supervision, according to a survey published on Wednesday, August 14. 

The third annual survey on the usage of PrEP in the UK was conducted by Public Health England, PrEPster and iwantPrEPnow. 2,389 people took part in the survey over the span of six weeks, with a quarter of respondents accessing it through Grindr.

92% of respondents identified as gay, 9% as bisexual, 2% as trans or non-binary, and a further 0.5% as heterosexual.

Co-founder of iwantPrEPnow Greg Own said, “This survey tells us a third of UK PrEP users are buying their PrEP online. It’s reassuring that people are taking matters into their own hands, but we have a responsibility to ensure they are getting the monitoring and support they require.”

PrEP is only available in England as part of the IMPACT trial whereas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland it is available through NHS sexual health clinics. To access it in England, a person must undergo a three-year clinical trail.

The survey highlighted how people who accessed PrEP online were less likely to be tested for an STI or HIV by a medical professional. 

22% of respondents attempted and failed to obtain PrEP in the past year, three-quarters of whom were unable to enroll in the IMPACT trail. Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster, stated, in regards to the healthcare system, “This is a scandal”. 

In Ireland, a PrEP programme is expected to be implemented by the end of 2019. Catherine Byrne, Minister of State, said: “As the (HIQA report) notes, many of the people who stand to benefit from a PrEP programme are from vulnerable or stigmatised groups in our society, so it is important that we continue to work to reach out and encourage more people to get tested and avail of the treatments and supports available”.

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