PrEP has transformed HIV prevention by providing an additional option for individuals to protect themselves. UK Government data clearly show that PrEP has contributed to the reduction in cases of HIV over recent years. PrEP has a key part to play if UK nations are to meet the goal of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.
PrEP has been available in sexual health services in Scotland and Wales since 2017 and available as a routine sexual health service in England since 2021.
Ensuring that PrEP is as easy to access as possible is crucial to maximising its potential. Yet we are increasingly hearing reports of people facing barriers to accessing PrEP. These include being unable to get an appointment to start PrEP, being denied eligibility for PrEP, and having difficulty securing follow up appointments.
These experiences are of course not universal and we also hear of great work being undertaken to facilitate PrEP access across the UK.
To try and get a clearer picture of what obstacles to accessing PrEP currently exist in the UK, Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust, Prepster, One Voice Network and Sophia Forum have launched two surveys.
The first is a community survey for those who have encountered problems accessing or trying to access PrEP. It seeks to identify any issues that people have experienced while using PrEP services in the UK.
The second is a clinical staff survey aimed at those involved in the provision of PrEP. It provides an opportunity for staff to provide anonymous feedback and suggestions on how PrEP access could be improved.
In addition, a third survey has been sent to sexual health commissioners in England to better understand current PrEP provisions and any future PrEP service plans.
The results from the surveys will be released in a report published in September 2022. The findings will help to identify where issues exist and influence work aimed at finding solutions to ensure that PrEP is easily accessible to all that need it.