Community comes together to talk about PrEP

We teamed up with HIV Scotland this week to host a community event talking about PrEP at Gayfield Creative Spaces in Edinburgh.

The community discussion brought together a panel of experts and speakers from the local community with members of the public to talk about the HIV prevention measure and whether it will become available in Scotland.

The event was one of five being held across the country as part of a joint initiative between our gay and bisexual men’s health and wellbeing project, SX, HIV Scotland and Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland to get people involved in the discussion about PrEP.

PrEP (or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis to give it its full name) involves the use of HIV drugs by those without the virus as a means of preventing infection. In recent years, a number of high profile studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of PrEP, not only for gay men but for heterosexual couples too.

Following it’s defeat in recent court proceedings, NHS England announced this week that it is to launch a wide-scale trial of PrEP, offering the drug to 10,000 people over the next three years. Meanwhile here in Scotland, discussions are ongoing about making it available north of the border.

Speakers at this week’s event informed the audience that Gilead Sciences, the manufacturers of the drug used for PrEP, had submitted an application to the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), the body which assesses new treatments for use on the NHS. We also heard about joint work to provide more information to the public and from members of the community who have already been accessing PrEP online about their experiences.

The community discussions across Scotland are about beginning to gather the views of communities who could benefit from PrEP to help us prepare a submission to the SMC in support of making it available. If the SMC supports the use of PrEP, each individual NHS board will then make a decision on how it is made available to people in their area.

If you would like to find out more about PrEP, visit the SX website where there are links to further information. You can also get in touch with your questions and comments by contacting SX Health Improvement Worker, Alastair Rose.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in making last night’s event a success, particularly the members of the community who came along to get involved in the discussion. We know that PrEP works and, by working with communities who are most affected, we now have an opportunity to make a lasting difference in the fight against HIV in Scotland.