London: ACTUP to protest outside Department of Health in call for PrEP

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Campaigners are holding a protest on Wednesday outside the Department of Health in a bid to speed up access to PrEP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis) – a drug which can prevent HIV infection.

PrEP is available on some healthcare schemes in the US for men who have sex with men (MSM).

A two-year study into whether PrEP should be routinely made available on the NHS for MSM is currently taking place.

The steering committee of the PROUD study announced in October that interim analysis has already shown that PrEP is highly protective against HIV for gay men and other MSM at high risk of infection.

It was also announced that the study would be fast-tracked.

ACTUP are calling for PrEP to be made available “now” to “everyone”, including “gay men, women and trans people”, arguing that there is no further need to delay extending use.

The group is urging supporters to demonstrate on Wednesday outside the Department of Health on 133-155 Waterloo Road, London, between 9am and 10am.

Last Monday, Act Up dumped manure outside UKIP’s Croydon North and Lambeth office in a World AIDS Day protest about recent offensive HIV-related remarks by the party.

In July, the World Health Organisation stated gay men should consider using PrEP as an additional method of preventing HIV infection alongside the use of condoms.

The announcement generated a mixed response. British journalist Patrick McAleenan feared such a sweeping statement could stigmatise gay men and undermine condom use.

However, other health campaigners welcomed the WHO’s intervention, viewing it as a watershed moment in the debate on HIV prevention.

In September, San Francisco politician Scott Wiener became one of the first US politicians to confirm his use of Truvada as PrEP to reduce his risk of HIV infection.

He told PinkNews: “I thought long and hard about whether to disclose my use of PrEP and ultimately decided I had a responsibility to be public in order to move the conversation forward.” 

Currently PrEP is only available in England through the PROUD study.