Recently the Government announced it would make PrEP publicly available free of charge to those who meet the clinical eligibility criteria. These categories include men who have sex with men; those having sex with a HIV-positive partner; or, a heterosexual man or woman at risk of HIV infection[i].
This is a monumental step in expanding our access to sexual health services in Ireland. The decision could not come soon enough, as HIV diagnoses in Ireland are at historic highs [ii] [iii]. It’s critical that PrEP is widely available and easy to access for everyone.
For those who do not fit into one of the three categories above, PrEP is also available privately on prescription in community pharmacies across Ireland.
PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention method that should be used in conjunction with other safe sex practices. This is because PrEP does not protect against other sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). While expanding access to PrEP is a significant moment, there is still work needed in the area of HIV and STI prevention in terms of education and information, especially amongst younger people. Consumer research recently commissioned by Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland found that over a third of males aged 18-24 were not aware of any HIV prevention methods [iv].
Looking after your sexual health should be a priority. If you are sexually active, it is important to look after your sexual health by getting regularly tested by your healthcare provider. The Gay Men’s Health Service STI Clinic in Dublin offer free full HIV and STI testing, visit HSE.ie for more information on this service.
[ii] HIV Ireland, ‘Record numbers of people diagnosed with HIV’ https://www.hivireland.ie/record-numbers-of-people-diagnosed-with-hiv/
[iv] Core Research, conducted on behalf of Teva Ireland, October 2019