HIV prevention activists in London today launched a new website, PrEPster.info, to educate and agitate for access to pre-exposure HIV prophylaxis (PrEP) on the NHS.
Although available on private prescription, PrEP is not yet available on the NHS, despite calls from the World Health Organization and The Lancet for it to be made available to those most might likely to be exposed to HIV.
“Across the summer we’ve talked to hundreds of people about PrEP and there’s a huge thirst to know more about it,” said Marc Thompson, co-founder of PrEPster.info. “PrEPster.info provides information about PrEP to help people decide if PrEP is right for them or their sexual partners.”
Will Nutland, co-founder of PrEPster.info added, “PrEPster.info provides some of the information, tools and resources to take action to make PrEP available. Until now PrEP activism has been confined to small groups of people. With this website we’re taking that PrEP activism to much broader communities of people.”
Thompson added, “The website’s been produced by a small group of HIV prevention activists for under £500. It demonstrates that HIV prevention activism doesn’t have to be expensive and can be grass roots and community led.”
Commenting on the website, Yuesf Azad, from National AIDS Trust said, “We can’t sit back and allow people to get HIV who would otherwise have remained HIV negative if they had had the chance to access PrEP. The NHS must make PrEP available as soon as possible and PrEPster.info will be important in making that happen. We need to make our voices heard, and every voice matters.”
PrEP is currently not available on the NHS and a decision on whether it will be available in England is expected by April 2016. That decision will relate only to the cost of the drugs. Local authorities in England will still have to commission PrEP services (such as regular HIV tests) from NHS sexual health services, possibly leading to a postcode lottery availability of PrEP in England.
Devolved decision making around health means that any decision to make PrEP available in England will not directly lead to availability in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
PrEPster.info has been funded from a grant from The Love Bank UK – a social action fund dedicated to assisting individuals, informal groupings of people, and small community organisations to affect change. PrEPster was developed by Marc Thompson, Will Nutland, Charlie Witzel and Richard Kahwagi, along with volunteer models, photographers and creative designers.