Earlier today, we received a really encouraging update on PrEP, highlighting the uptake of the HIV prevention drug since it became available on the NHS in Scotland last year.
One of the headlines that leaps off the page is that over 1,250 gay and bisexual men were able to access PrEP through the NHS in the eight months since it became available. That’s around one in every six men who attended a sexual health clinic in that time.
In the vast majority of cases, PrEP is being prescribed to men who are having regular condomless sex with more than one partner, with smaller numbers accessing it due to previous STIs that place them at greater risk of HIV. For everyone accessing PrEP, the drug has put them in control of their HIV status.
It’s interesting to see that PrEP recipients are spread across all age ranges, and it will be interesting to look at the different needs of men in different age brackets.
In another welcome aspect of the findings, it looks as though engagement around PrEP is encouraging more and more people through the doors of clinics to access testing and other support services. In the eight months since PrEP became available, over 1,700 people stated that it was one of the main reasons they attended a clinic. Of those, almost half had either never visited a clinic, or hadn’t been in the last two years.
Similarly, over 40% of the people who accessed PrEP did so on their first ever visit to a clinic, or on their first visit in the past two years.
That’s fantastic news. Even though PrEP isn’t for everyone, if discussions about it can encourage people to make regular testing part of their routine, it can only help work to reduce new HIV transmissions.
The update on PrEP was produced on behalf of the Scottish National PrEP Monitoring and Research Subgroup. Their data found that uptake of PrEP so far is higher than initial projections, and we’re delighted that so many men have been able to access it.
If you want to know more about PrEP, or want to know if it is right for you, you can talk to SX for information, advice and support. You can find out more on our PrEP page here.