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PrEP: The small blue pill helping end HIV transmission

PrEP: The small blue pill helping end HIV transmission


Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is used to prevent HIV transmission

Access to a preventative drug has led to a fall in the number of gay and bisexual men diagnosed with HIV, a leading sexual health clinic has said.

Health Security Agency (HSA) figures for London show the number of first diagnoses had fallen in this group by 3% from 2021 to 2022.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a “powerful tool” in ending transmission, 56 Dean Street clinic said.

However there was a rise of 17% in new HIV diagnoses in the capital.

Uptake of the drug has been greatest in gay and bisexual men, the clinic said.

Consultant Dr Alan McOwan said: “Everyone should know about PrEP and its potential for preventing HIV.”

Image source, Dr Alan McOwan

Image caption,

Dr McOwan said it’s “really simple” to access PrEP

He encouraged anyone considered at higher risk of HIV to enquire about it at their local sexual health clinic.

Across England however, among gay and bisexual men, the overall reduced HIV transmission is not reflected across all ethnic groups.

Tarun Shah, who was diagnosed with HIV four years ago while trying to access PrEP, said the results were encouraging but more work was needed to target more at-risk people in accessing the drug.

He told BBC News: “A few months after enquiring about the PrEP trial, I ended up getting quite ill and it came out that I was HIV positive.”

Image caption,

Tarun said his experience accessing PrEP before his HIV diagnosis was “frustrating”

He said he found it “frustrating” to think about his situation but added: “I’ve now been quite healthy ever since and it’s great to see that PrEP is now widely available to everyone.”

Among gay and bisexual men, the overall reduced HIV transmission is not reflected across all ethnic groups.

‘Many not being talked to’

The data for England shows new diagnoses fell by 17% from 2021-22 for white gay and bisexual men, while rises were observed among men of Asian (17%) and mixed or other ethnicity (25%).

Tarun, who is South Asian, said: “There are a lot of groups who don’t feel like they are being talked to in these conversations.

“The more people we can include, the better and I think it will be great that everyone has access to PrEP.”

While effective HIV treatment eliminates the possibility of transmission, Tarun said his partner taking PrEP provide them with a “double zero kind of safety”.

For more information on HIV, AIDS and PrEP, visit the NHS website.



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