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New survey finds nearly quarter of gay men are unable to access PrEP

By Steve Brown

A new survey has found that nearly a quarter of gay men are unable to access PrEP.

The study, carried out by Public Health England, found that those living outside of London have less of a chance accessing the drug compared to those living in the capital.

At the moment there is an ongoing NHS Impact trial – limited to 10,000 participants – to see whether to make the treatment available nationally.

Matthew Hodson of HIV awareness organisation National Aids Manual (NAM), told Gay Star News: “The difficulties that some have had trying to get hold of PrEP demonstrate that the Impact trial in England is only a sticking plaster – and an inadequate one at that.

“We know that PrEP is very effective at preventing HIV and we should now be moving as quickly as possible to full rollout to anyone who needs it. This could be done in parallel to the trial.

“Already we are hearing stories of people who have been turned away from the trial and have acquired HIV since.

“That’s a lifetime of treatment that could have been avoided by access to PrEP for a season of risk.

“It’s frustrating that we have the tools we need to prevent HIV infections but we’re not making them available to all.

“What we have observed in other countries where PrEP is available is that it is those who are otherwise marginalised by society who are the least able to access it, and these are often the same groups that have some of the highest rates of HIV: black gay and bisexual men, trans women, black women and migrants.”

Marc Thompson of educational charity PrEPster added: “It’s unsurprising that PrEP access is so geographically unequal.

“We need more targeted health promotion activity and advocacy in parts of the country where it’s hardest to access PrEP.”