Urgent press release Tuesday 5th July: Stand up for PrEP: Global AIDS Activists Demand the Department of Health Make Life Saving Prevention Intervention available in the UK
Organised by ACT UP London Supported by the United4PrEP coalition & I Want PrEP Now – Facebook Event Page here
ACT UP London (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) is a diverse non-partisan group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis. We are staging a visual demonstration this Thursday (7th July, from 6pm) outside the Department of Health in Whitehall to protest against the government’s total inaction at holding NHSE (NHS England) to account for denying responsibility to provide the new game-changing HIV drug known as PrEP.
PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis and when taken correctly, is 86 – 99% effective at protecting users against HIV, as proven by multiple government sponsored clinical trials around the world. Evidence of efficacy and cost-effectiveness amongst highrisk groups has been available for a number of years, yet the NHS is currently ignoring this and refusing to make the drug available in the UK, forcing users to buy it online (1) from unregulated foreign pharmacies at their personal expense and risk.
PrEP has already been available in the USA for 4 years now, as well as France, Canada, Israel and Kenya, and soon to be Australia, South Africa and many others. Despite undergoing a successful 18 month review of PrEP, NHSE declared (21 March (2) & 31st May 2016 (3)) it will not be made available on the NHS as it the responsibility of local authorities to fund. During the time of the review alone, 9,000 people have acquired HIV in the UK – these may have been prevented with PrEP.
We demand that a representative from the Department of Health meet face to face with community representatives from ACT UP London and United4PrEP (4) before the 21st July. In addition to this, we demand a full written statement before July 14th in answer to the following:
- Why PrEP is not yet available to all those who need it on the NHS.
- To acknowledge and support the thousands of people in the UK who are already on generic PrEP and state how they plan to support them in the future.
- Announce what time frame they currently have planned on making PrEP fully available.
- What they are currently doing and plan to do in the future for people who are not MSM (men who have sex with men) and need PrEP.
- Justify the current unnecessary pilot scheme, including the populations and locations chosen which is happening over the next 2 years.
We are working alongside the PrEP advocacy group United4PrEP, which is made up of many of the UK’s leading HIV charities, campaigning groups, doctors and activists. From these groups we have the support of the National AIDS Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, Sophia Forum, Positively UK, London Friend, NAM, i-Base and they will be joining us for the demonstration.
Matthew Hodson from GMFA (Gay Men Fight AIDS) described the United4PrEP combined march at Pride (5) as full of “passion and commitment as numerous groups continue the fight for PrEP to be made available.”
Alex Craddock from IWantPrEPNow.co.uk and a PrEP user himself said “I was originally given PrEP and all support services for free when I lived in New York, yet now being back home in London, I am being forced to buy my PrEP online from websites based in South Asia at a cost of £45 a month, which I’m struggling to afford. The NHS is still refusing to fulfil its duty of providing me and thousands of others with medical care and HIV services. In response to this, we created http://www.IWantPrEPNow.co.uk, the only place in the UK which tells people where they can buy PrEP safely and affordably online, so anyone who wants it can stop themselves being at high-risk of HIV without having to wait for an end to NHS bureaucracy and budget cuts.”
Silvia Petretti, the CEO of Positively UK stresses the importance of PrEP for women: “Women continue to be substantially affected by HIV in the UK. We need to ensure that we have high quality prevention approaches which increase women’s choices and agency. Historically we know very well that enforcing condoms can be very hard for us, that is why we need PrEP for women too.”
Transmission rates in the UK have been rising consistently for the past 10 years and are now at their highest ever levels, despite condoms and anti-retrovirals being available. PrEP is a game-changing new tool in the fight against HIV that has the power to change this. 17 people in the UK are diagnosed with HIV every day and this will continue to happen until NHSE accept responsibility and stop causing more and more delays. We have the tools and the evidence to fight this, yet it’s still not happening.
If you agree that this life-changing drug should not be being blocked from being made available, join us this Thursday 7th July from 6pm, outside the Department for Health, 79 Whitehall, London, SW1A.
For more info search ‘Stand Up For PrEP!’ on Facebook or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please wear blue to represent the colour of PrEP.
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: Alex 07944059756, Dan 07717811747, Collette 07760176217
Twitter: #United4PrEP #WhereisPrEP #IWantPrEPNow #Prepster
Notes to editors:
(1) https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-06-07/debates/ 16060731000002/NHSCommissioning(Pre-ExposureProphylaxis)
(2) https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/03/prep/ – shock over commissioning update for all PrEP review professionals and networks due to unexpected and inappropriate pilot plan.
(3) https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/05/prep-provision/ – after the threat of legal action by the National AIDS Trust, NHSE reconsidered it but eventually accepted external legal advice that it does not have the legal power to commission PrEP – this can be changed – https://hansard.parliament.uk/ commons/2016-06-07/debates/16060731000002/NHSCommissioning(PreExposureProphylaxis)
(5) http://www.tht.org.uk/our-charity/Media-centre/Press-Releases/2016/ June/%E2%80%98United-for-PrEP%E2%80%99-HIV-and-sexual-health-charitiesmake-history-by-marching-together-at-London-Pride
(6)Funding PrEP for HIV prevention Delays by NHS England will cost lives—it’s time to do the right thing – http://press.psprings.co.uk/bmj/july/PrEPedit.pdf