It was announced last December, on World Aids Day 2017, that a more affordable version of the HIV prevention drug PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis) was being made available in Ireland.
In Ireland, 7,900 people have been newly diagnosed with HIV since the 1990s, and it is estimated by HIV Ireland that around 4,000 people are knowingly living with HIV in Ireland today.
New research has informed a new campaign, PrEPLoveLife, which aims to promote PrEP towards the most at-risk groups of HIV infection, and inform the general population of the benefits PrEP can have in preventing HIV.
About PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis)
PrEP is a pill that is taken once a day by HIV negative people (someone who has never been diagnosed with HIV) to reduce the chances of getting HIV.
Studies have shown that PrEP can reduce the chances of getting HIV by up to 86%.
Currently it is available by prescription from pharmacies and will cost about €100 a month. It is not currently covered by the medical card or the Drugs Payment Scheme.
New research carried out by Gay Community News and sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals (the company who makes the new generic version of PrEP) looked at different areas impacted by PrEP including:
- Sexual health
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
- Attitudes on HIV and awareness
- PrEP amongst the gay community
There were 622 respondents to the survey. 97% of respondents were male.
- There was a high level of awareness (97%) about the existence of PrEP
- There were much lower levels of awareness that PrEP is available in Ireland, with 30% unsure or unaware of its availability
- 10% of respondents were taking PrEP, with 81% of those taking it on a daily basis.
- 57% of existing PrEP users in Ireland get their medication from unregulated sources, most of these online
- 65% said they talk about HIV with their peers, while 58% would tell a partner their HIV status before having sex for the first time
- 55% bring condoms on a first date
- 19% of respondents rarely or never take an STI test, while just 18% have a test every 3 months. A person taking PrEP is required to have regular STI tests every 3 months.
- 24% get tested every six months, while 38% get tested at least once a year
This research was used to inform the PrEPLoveLife campaign, aiming to raise awareness of PrEP among those at risk of contracting HIV, promote safer sex practices, and inform the public on what PrEP is and how it prevents HIV.
For more information on the campaign visist PrEPLoveLife.ie