“Making PrEP available and accessible to those at highest risk of HIV infection can reduce the rate of new transmissions dramatically,” says Ireland’s Gay Health Network
The Gay Health Network (GHN) recently made public a proposal to the HSE from February 2017 which calls on the organisation to make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available at no cost to those most at risk of contracting HIV.
PrEP is a once a day medication which is extremely effective (between 92 and 99 per cent effective) at preventing HIV-negative people from contracting HIV. For more information on the drug, check out this repository of information: Everything You Need To Know About PrEP In Ireland.
The GHN Community Statement on PrEP indicates that HIV diagnoses in men who have sex with men (MSM) has increased 400 per cent from 2005 to 2015, with MSM now accounting for more than half of all new HIV diagnoses in Ireland.
As such, the HSE has a responsibility to protect the health of Irish citizens and in particular the MSM community who are at substantial risk of contracting HIV.
Ireland’s Gay Health Network highlight the “extensive evidence-base” proving PrEP’s efficacy and safety and draw attention to the fact that it is recommended for preventing HIV by several global health organisations including the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS and European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC).
Lending credence to the GHN statement are the recent statistics from London’s 56 Dean Street clinic which indicate that PrEP access has contributed to a dramatic 42% decrease in HIV diagnoses since 2015.
Other reports from Australia support the fact that making PrEP available to MSM is reducing HIV rates.
The two page GHN Community Statement On PrEP calls on the HSE to take the following actions:
Make PrEP available and accessible in Ireland immediately
- to individuals at substantial risk for HIV who would benefit from access to the full range of HIV prevention tools and risk-reduction approaches.
- to gay, bisexual, and men who have sex with men(MSM), trans people who have sex with men, male and female sex workers, and to other people at substantial risk for acquiring HIV.
- to HIV-negative people who are in sero-different relationships with a HIV-positive partner who is not currently on treatment or who has been on effective treatment for less than 6 months, or whose viral replication is not suppressed.
PrEP must be available in Ireland to those ineligible or unwilling to engage in clinical trials.
- The case for PrEP as a prevention option to HIV infection has already been made. We need to act now on this information and ensure that PrEP is available and accessible to all those who may benefit from it.
Removal of economic barriers to PrEP.
- PrEP needs to be available without cost to users. The cost savings for PrEP availability outweighs the financial cost of treating a person living with HIV over the duration of their lives.
- Furthermore the cost of PrEP will lessen when the release of patent and availability of generics.
Full engagement with, and involvement of affected communities.
- GHN calls for a multi-stakeholder and community partnership approach to facilitate and support the process of decision-making in relation to the availability and accessibility of PrEP in Ireland, including engagement with people living with HIV and other groups most likely to be vulnerable to, and exposed to, HIV.
The full GHN statement can be read here.
Share this post on Facebook and Twitter if you would like the HSE to address GHN’s requests, and be sure to tag the Minister For Health, Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD on Twitter) and HSE Ireland (@HSELive on Twitter).