What’s going on with PrEP in the UK?
When we talk about health, and specifically about preventing the transmission of HIV, PrEP has been one of the game-changers in reducing transmission rates in the UK.
However, there’s still more work to do.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is short for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. When taken correctly, PrEP prevents people from contracting HIV. The use of PrEP – combined with the virus being untransmittable by people taking HIV medication – has already seen considerable decreases in new HIV infections in the UK.
Can everyone access PrEP?
Access to PrEP is limited – particularly in England. Different parts of the UK have taken different approaches when it comes to funding PrEP. In England, the NHS has funded PrEP for 13,000 people who are assessed as high-risk. This is not enough to meet demand, and we are regularly hearing examples of people who couldn’t access PrEP and have subsequently acquired HIV.
If you have the financial resources, you can buy PrEP from international suppliers – see I Want PrEP Now for guidance. Also helping to fill the gap, UK charity Terrence Higgins Trust is funding PrEP for people with low-income who are unable to access the medication via the NHS.
Community groups have been demanding that NHS England make PrEP available on demand from 1 April 2019. However, that deadline has not been met.
Protesting for PrEP
‘There’s no other way to describe what’s happening around PrEP access in England than as a mess…” said Ian Green, Chief Executive at Terrence Higgins Trust. “It’s absolutely unacceptable that gay and bisexual men in London and other parts of the country are still unable to access PrEP for HIV prevention. The stalemate on PrEP needs to be resolved urgently and we won’t stop fighting until that happens.”
“When PrEP was under patent, it was unreasonable for NHS England to withhold its access. Now that the patent has been beaten, there is really no excuse…” explains Jason Domino. “People have a right to choose PrEP from a range of HIV-prevention strategies. While the NHS is scrutinising a medication that we know works, people are contracting HIV.”
A rally will be held outside the UK Parliament in London on Monday 1 April from 6 PM.