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‘We must learn from our past’: New podcast traces rise of HIV prevention medication PrEP

“We have all the tools to better our sexual health but we’re not using them," says The Other Blue Pill co-creator and narrator Phil Samba

By Jamie Tabberer

Several blue pills on a table top
(Image: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons)

A new podcast exploring the rise of the “other blue pill” – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP – is streaming now online

The Other Blue Pill, a six-parter, features interviews with experts, activists, and people directly affected by the campaign to improve access to the life-saving HIV prevention drug.

After a historic battle, PrEP was made available for free on the NHS for those at high risk from infection in April 2020.

The podcast looks back at the years to the arrival of PrEP as a treatment in the early 2010s; later, it details the long fight, through the courts and beyond, for fair and free access to PrEP in the UK. 

“People in the UK right now are forced to buy DoxyPEP online” – PrEP campaigner Phil Samba

Phil Samba, who co-created the podcast from The Love Tank, said in a statement: “What I found interesting about making this podcast was seeing how we haven’t learned from our past.

“History is repeating itself. Fighting for access to PrEP was reminiscent of fighting for access to HIV medication in the 90s. 

A picture of PrEP campaigner and podcast co-creator Phil Samba
PrEP campaigner Phil Samba co-created the podcast from The Love Tank (Image: Provided)

Phil, who also narrates the podcast, furthermore said: “Similarly, people in the UK right now are forced to buy DoxyPEP online, mirroring what happened with PrEP for nearly five years before it was made available on the NHS.

“We have all the tools to better our sexual health but we’re not using them, we’re seeing this happen right now with DoxyPEP and before that with how MPOX was handled. To know where we can go in the future and to avoid repeating the same mistakes we must learn from our past.”

Deborah Gold, former Chief Executive of National AIDS Trust, also features in the podcast. She said in a statement: “The story of PrEP – past, present and future, is a fascinating one. A transformative medication that has changed the face of HIV prevention, getting access involved activism, legal action and more.”

Gold furthermore added: “Even now, access is so limited that many who need PrEP can’t get it, and its benefits are often not felt by those who need it most. This amazing podcast shares the inside story and lays out the challenges ahead if PrEP is to make the impact it is capable of.”

Image: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons