Having to wait for hours at your IMPACT Trial clinic appointment? In his second My PrEP Story, Will Nutland of PrEPster heralds the start of a new e-service for IMPACT participants in London.
My PrEP Story is the personal voice of people who are using, or have used, PrEP, and those who have been at the forefront of providing it and advocating for it. Find out more about their decisions to use PrEP, how they have navigated using PrEP, and their very own PrEP journey.
The hands of the clock in the waiting room move in slow motion. The noise from BBC daytime TV drowns out the raised voice of the young man trying to register a place on the IMPACT trial (just how many antique TV shows can there be?). When I later get to see the nurse, she tells me that four people have been turned away in the first 90 minutes that the clinic has been opened that morning.
I jiggle in my seat, my bladder ready to burst. “Don’t urinate for an hour before attending the clinic” I’ve been instructed. As I had my first coffee of the day, two hours ago, I tried to figure out how long I would be able to wait before peeing, whilst having a good-enough amount to part fill the specimen bottle.
As the final credits roll on the second bargain-hunt-homes-in-the-country TV show of the morning I notice that the waiting room has filled and emptied twice in the time I’ve been there. The receptionist knows what’s coming: “there are three people in front of you, we’re very busy today”, she says over her glasses. “I’m going to pee myself – I can’t hold it in any longer” and – as with every visit on my 2 years on the IMPACT Trial – I’m passed a specimen bottle so I can still provide a fresh urine sample to be tested for gonorrhea and chlamydia before I see the nurse. “Could I also have the self-swabs too? I could do them whilst I wait?” I enquire – but such a simple timesaving procedure seems out of the bounds of bureaucratic possibility.
If you’ve registered at anywhere other than Dean Street Express for the IMPACT Trial, it’s likely that you’ve had similar frustrations accessing PrEP. It’s not uncommon to have to take a half-day off work or studying every 3 months for IMPACT appointments. Decisions about the service model to deliver PrEP is up to each clinical service, and so the Trial organisers have no ability to influence how much time we spend at each appointment.
But – if you’re already on IMPACT in London, or are about to enroll – that’s all about to change. Thanks to an amendment to the Trial protocol, London IMPACT Trial participants can now do all of our STI and HIV testing through the Sexual Health London e-service. The e-service is easy, quick and free to use: register through their website 2 weeks before your next routine IMPACT appointment; receive your test kit through the post; follow the instructions in the kit; put it in the post in a free-post envelope; and wait a couple of days for the results to come through.
If you need any treatment, a health adviser will get in touch. Meanwhile, take your SHL number to your next IMPACT appointment, and (if all your tests are OK) you won’t have to have any tests done in the clinic.
If you’re on the Trial in London and don’t want to use the e-service, then there’s no pressure to do so: you can still get STI and HIV tests done at the clinic. Also, if you suspect you have any STI symptoms, then don’t use the e-service: get straight in touch with your usual sexual health clinic and ask for an appointment as soon as possible.
It’s a win:win – less time at the clinic for Trial participants, and more clinic time for people who can’t use the e-service or who need STI treatment.
And for me there’s an additional win: no more crossing my legs as the re-run of Antiques Roadshow blasts out from the TV in my clinic waiting room.
For more information visit prepster.info/e-service
To register with the e-service visit prep.shl.uk