PrEP is the new drug that will help protect you from HIV, but what do you need to know about it?
NHS England made a shock decision that they would not make Truvada available earlier this year. They are now reconsidering this decision after the National AIDS Trust threatened a lawsuit.
Will Nutland of PrEPster, Greg Owen, of I Want PrEP Now, and Dr Sheena McCormack, of 56 Dean Street spoke about the need for PrEP to be available in British public health services.
The three first went into the safety of what is needed before you first go on Truvada or seeking a generic PrEP treatment online. They urged that PrEP was not a substitute for condoms.
They all advocated the need for a STI test, a fingerprick HIV test on the day you start and doing as much research as you can to ensure you’re getting the real thing. McCormack did say she did not want going to see a medical professional to be a requirement, as it could set up a barrier for some people. Also, McCormack did note the need to make sure your kidneys were in full working order – especially if you’re in your 40s or older.
Owen shared his story, and he said that quite often the way you become a PrEP advocate is if either you or a friend gets an HIV positive diagnosis.
In his case, it was his own.
‘if the NHS had paid for my PrEP, it would have been a lot cheaper than paying for my treatment now,’ he said. ‘I don’t mind disclosing my story because I know people want to keep themselves negative.
‘HIV won if it got me. But if I can keep one person HIV negative, that’s one person safe. And if we can keep two people negative, then I’ve won.’
Nutland, who takes generic PrEP after buying it online (the NHS cannot legally buy generic PrEP as Truvada is under patent), said that buying Truvada privately can set you back £400 to £500 a month. Buying generic PrEP is around £40 a month.
It is legal to import generic PrEP to the UK as long as it’s only used for personal use.
When asked about the campaign to get PrEP on the NHS, Nutland urged people to go on to PrEPster for nine ways you can help.
Watch the video of the PrEP panel below: