New research released today (Thursday 3 November 2022) reveals that two thirds (65%) of people who want to access the HIV prevention drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) struggled to do so.
Five years ago, after a court case won by National Aids Trust, the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, became available on the NHS in England. Yet, despite thousands of individuals being able to access PrEP across that time, many more are being denied access to this essential HIV prevention tool.
The new research from a coalition of HIV and sexual health organisations, found that significant access barriers to accessing PrEP are preventing individuals from taking care of their sexual health.
The research, conducted by PrEPster, National AIDS Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, Sophia Forum and One Voice Network, received survey responses from 1,120 people in England struggling to access PrEP.
The survey found:
- 40% of those who tried to book a clinic appointment online were unable to do so
- 30% faced difficulties getting through to a clinic by phone
- Almost a quarter of respondents were turned away from clinics due to a lack of appointments
- A third of respondents waited 12 weeks for a clinic appointment
- People trying to access PrEP for the first time faced the greatest challenges – 68% reported access issues
- Service access issues were more common in East of England, North West of England, and London
Dr Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster said: “In the survey, we heard from people who had reverted to buying PrEP online, or to borrowing PrEP from friends. That on-going disinvestment in the sexual health of our nation results in individuals reverting to stop-gap measures that we thought we’d left behind years ago is a scandal. Without an immediate reversal of these trends, and proper investment in sexual health, we can forget claims to be the first county to hit UNAID’s HIV targets by 2030.”
Marc Thompson, co-founder of PrEPster added: “The survey data was collected before the current monkeypox outbreak had taken hold. The situation for sexual health clinics is even more dire now than it was when the survey was running. We need immediate and urgent investment in our sexual health services, and for attention to be paid to those parts of England where PrEP provision is particularly dismal.”
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