PRE-exposure prophylaxis known as PrEP, which prevents HIV is set to be rolled out across Essex following the confirmation of funding from the Department of Health and Social Care.
Over 1000 people are estimated to be living with HIV in Essex, and in 2018 five people every month were newly diagnosed with HIV across the county.
Although since 2015, new cases of HIV have fallen 28% in the UK, proper access to PrEP has always been the missing piece of the puzzle for further progress. When taken as prescribed PrEP is highly effective for preventing HIV in all groups regardless of gender, ethnicity, or sexuality. Meaning that the majority of people can expect a normal and healthy life.
Thurrock Sexual Health Service, working with Terrence Higgins Trust(THT), the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity, operate a number of services across Essex and will soon be able to offer routine provision of PrEP, free-of-charge at their sexual health clinics and through their partner providers.
HIV PrEP forms part of combination HIV prevention alongside health promotion, condom use, regular testing and swift initiation of HIV treatment where indicated. Active risk reduction provides a major opportunity to control HIV transmission. In addition, the regular
sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing which forms part of the PrEP package of care provides opportunities to test and treat STIs, thereby supporting the control of STIs.
Anyone wanting more information or to start PrEP should contact their local sexual health clinic or Terrence Higgins Trust to register their interest:
· Thurrock Sexual Health Service: Telephone: 0300 003 1212
To coincide with the national roll-out of PrEP in England, Terrence Higgins Trust will be running messaging to raise awareness on PrEP to all groups most affected by HIV are aware of its benefits and how to access it, including Black African people, women and trans communities. The Terrence Higgins Helpline is also available for support, advice and information:
· Terrence Higgins Trust helpline: Telephone: 0808 802 1221
Chris Quinn, HIV Clinical Nurse Specialist welcomed this important step:
“We are delighted that roll out of the PrEP program has been confirmed and can now make this vital preventative treatment available from our clinics. This is great news for the communities most affected by HIV in Essex and an important milestone in the course of the HIV epidemic in the UK.”