The Sophia Forum welcomes the announcement by the Department of Health and Social Care of funding to enable the roll out of PrEP across England. The initial investment of £16 million is long overdue. For the last 5 years key HIV organisations and community activists have advocated tirelessly to reach this point, ensuring PrEP, the HIV prevention drug, becomes routinely commissioned on our NHS.
Whilst the Sophia Forum welcomes this decision, we have significant concerns that the health inequalities that have been evident throughout the trial will continue in the commissioning of PrEP. Numbers of women, trans and non binary people and heterosexual men have been significantly lower, and we cannot allow this to continue as this HIV prevention drug becomes available. This will require further political will and continuing education, both to professionals and community members, within and beyond the sector.
This HIV prevention method provides individuals with agency being individually controlled and putting decisions into the hands of those at risk. However the specific needs of those at risk must be carefully considered. For example, trans individuals accessing PrEP through clinics, an increased risk of violence travelling to clinics is real and women do not access clinics in the same way their male counterparts do. Marginalised groups within the Black, African, Caribbean, Asian and Latin American are at increased risk of HIV. Further investment in sexual health and community- based services is essential if we are to reach everyone that can benefit from PrEP.
Local authorities will receive £16 million in 2020 to 2021. The new £16 million will also enable people on the trial to continue to use PrEP when the trial ends in October 2020. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/hiv-drug-prep-to-be-available-across-england
Sophie Strachan – Co- Chair – Sophia Forum
Women & Others PrEP IMPACT trial Co- Chair