UK: What are the challenges for getting gay men at risk of HIV to take PrEP?

Professor Rusi Jaspal and Dr Jake Bayley explain their findings from conducting research into PrEP and the attitudes of gay men.

After a long legal battle with the UK Government, PrEP has been funded in England for 10,000 at-risk patients only, a fraction of the total of those who need it. This has left many gay men seeking PrEP through other channels, such as buying a generic (or cheaper non-branded) version online, often without clinical support.

Last week it was announced that 56 Dean Street, Europe’s busiest sexual health clinic, had launched a ‘PrEP Shop’ to provide access to generic PrEP. It will cost £55 per month allowing more gay men to access PrEP, but only those who can afford it.

PrEP is really important. We’ve already seen the incredible benefits of PrEP in reducing new HIV infections. Public Health England data revealed a 40 percent decrease in new HIV diagnoses in England in 2016 compared to the year before.

This eye-watering fall in new diagnoses marked a significant shift in the HIV epidemic in Britain, given the year-on-year increase in new diagnoses that had been observed previously. Yet, the high cost of PrEP is not the only barrier to PrEP. There are other social and psychological factors that can make it inaccessible to gay men.

In 2016, we interviewed a group of gay men in London and Leicester to find out what they knew and thought about PrEP. All of the participants reported either ‘cursory’ or no knowledge of PrEP prior to the study but, when it was explained to them, most saw PrEP as a good thing. However, when asked whether they would use PrEP themselves, most expressed concerns. Read more via PinkNews