Press Release: Government urged to increase availability of PrEP as HIV cases rise
Press Release – 15th June 2022 – For immediate release
HIV Ireland has today called on Government to increase funding and resources to ensure timely and barrier free access to PrEP services in Ireland. The call comes amid a reported doubling of the number of newly notified cases of HIV in Ireland compared to the first six months last year (293 v 145), as highlighted in the Weekly HIV and STI Report published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).
Speaking ahead of a public seminar on the role of communities in memorialising HIV and AIDS, Executive Director of HIV Ireland Mr Stephen O’Hare said: “PrEP [pre-exposure prophylaxis] is highly effective at preventing a person who is HIV negative from acquiring HIV through sexual intercourse and is a vital component in our strategy to reduce HIV transmissions. Delays in access to services is detrimental to communities and will further reduce Ireland’s ability to meets its ambitious target of ending new HIV transmissions by 2030,” he added.
Research published in 2022 by HIV Ireland points to ongoing difficulties in accessing PrEP. The recently published EMERGE Study, conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with HIV Ireland’s MPOWER programme found that more than half of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men who reported difficulty in accessing STI services during COVID-19 restrictions were attempting to access PrEP.
Adam Shanley, co author of the report and MPOWER Programme manager said “The continued increase in waiting times risks eroding the high degree of enthusiasm for PrEP among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in Ireland as frustration with the overburdened system sets in. A successful national HIV prevention strategy depends heavily on timely and barrier free access to services” he added.
“We know from other jurisdictions,” continued Mr Shanley, “that long waiting times for PrEP may be associated with increased vulnerability to acquiring HIV for those on waiting lists, and further risks entirely preventable onward transmissions.”
The warnings were issued ahead of a public event to mark Irish AIDS Day to discuss the Government’s recent public call for expressions of interest to design and construct a National HIV and AIDS Monument, located in the Phoenix Park, Dublin. The event “These Fragile Lives – The Role of Communities in Memorialising HIV and AIDS in Ireland” will hear from speakers and stakeholders with a long history in activism and of working at the coalface of the epidemic particularly during the height of the HIV and AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s.
“HIV Ireland very much welcomes the Government’s initiative to erect a National Monument for HIV and AIDS,” said Stephen O’Hare. “We encourage artists, architects, community collaborations and designers to submit their ideas to this open competition and to engage meaningfully with all of the communities affected by HIV and AIDS as part of the process,” he added.
The open access online webinar to mark Irish AIDS Day is a joint event with GCN Magazine and is free to attend. Join the webinar here.
For interviews contact – Stephen O’Hare, Executive Director, HIV Ireland, Tel: 0857112635 email firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for Editors:
The EMERGE study report: See Recommendation 1.c pg. 24
Media Reporting Guidelines: Advice and guidance for editors and journalists reporting on HIV in Ireland