Allowing gay men access to new drugs could prevent around 7,400 extra cases of HIV in the UK before the end of the decade, according to newly-published research.
The study, which was published in The Lancet, states that giving PrEP to the 25% of gay men who are most sexually active will cut the number of new cases by 44%. This means that around 7,400 new cases will be prevented by 2020.
The research also argues that PrEP is the best way to prevent the spread of HIV between men who have sex with men. PrEP does not stop the spread of other STDs, though.
The report also argues that the best way to prevent the spread of HIV is with a ‘practical combined prevention programme’, which includes giving PrEP to these men, as well as a yearly test for HIV-negative men and immediate ART (medication to try and suppress the virus) for men with HIV.
A study in 2014 found that one in every eight gay men in London has HIV. This compares to one in 26 around the UK.
Speaking about the study, Dr Michael Brady, the Medical Director of the Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “The reality is the UK is now lagging well behind other countries on its approach to HIV prevention and its investment in successful interventions such as PrEP.”
He then goes on to criticise the NHS for not making PrEP available, saying that “every month we delay there are more people being unnecessarily infected with HIV.”
During a speech about HIV, Conservative MP Mike Freer said that “we need to challenge the stigma and discrimination that people living with HIV face” before treatments for the disease can become a reality.