Almost half of gay men ‘would use’ HIV-preventing PrEP drugs

preptabs

A new study into PrEP and its usage found this week that nearly half of gay men would be interested in taking the medication if it were available on the NHS.

Truvada is a Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis [PrEP], which when taken regularly, can dramatically reduce the risks of HIV transmission. Despite the fact there have been a series of landmark success stories for PrEP, both in the UK and abroad, NHS England are still reconsidering if the drug should be made available to the public.

Article via GayTimes

This week, Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow released the results of a study looking at attitudes towards PrEP, and the general awareness of its use. This first of its kind study was targeted at men who have sex with men [MSM], who are regularly referred to in other studies as a ‘high risk’ group.

Of the 690 MSM questioned by the Universities, nearly half of participants [47.8%] said that if PrEP was available they would use the drug.

This number rose in males under 25, and people who engage in ‘risky’ sex were far more likely to say they would like to use PrEP.

However, just 29% of MSM had heard of PrEP prior to the study, and weren’t fully aware of what it could do, highlighting a worrying lack of education on HIV preventative measures.

One of the researchers, Dr Jamie Frankis, commented: “This study adds to the current dialogue around PrEP provision on the NHS by clarifying that those men most likely to benefit from PrEP are also those who are most likely to say they will use it.

“Although men will use PrEP as part of their own sophisticated risk management strategies, relative lack of awareness means that comprehensive services to promote and support PrEP use must underpin any such implementation.”

Representatives of NHS England are reportedly going to meet in May, to decide on whether to re-start to the decision-making process on PrEP, following legal action taken by the National AIDS Trust.

If we do see a reversal of NHS England’s original decision, this could lead PrEP being considered at the Clinical Priorities Advisory group meeting in June – The organisation that decides on what NHS England will commission in the next 12 months.

Deborah Gold, Chief Executive, NAT, commented at the time: “We welcome this change of mind from NHS England. NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision. Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes.”

“PrEP is one of the most exciting prevention options to emerge since the HIV epidemic began and offers the prospect of real success in combating this virus,” Deborah Gold continued. “To deny the proper process to decide whether to commission PrEP, when 17 people are being diagnosed with HIV every day, is not only morally wrong but legally wrong also.”

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