PrEP Programme must include adequately funded sexual health services – Senator Fintan Warfield
Sinn Féin spokesperson on LGBTQI rights Senator Fintan Warfield has welcomed the formal advice given by HIQA today that a PrEP programme within the State would be safe, effective and cost-saving along with the government response committing to a PrEP HIV prevention programme in the Autumn.
He cautioned that PrEP in only one measure in combatting increasing HIV rate and that our sexual health and testing need to be funded adequately and that the programme needs to be State-wide.
Senator Warfield said:
“There were 531 new diagnoses of HIV in 2018, an 8% increase from the previous year. Rates are increasing in recent years where our European counterparts are working to eradicate HIV.
“The responses to rising HIV rates in recent years have ultimately not had an effect on bringing down transmission so a programme in which PrEP is accessible to those who are vulnerable to acquisition of HIV must be welcomed.
“However, the State also has an alarmingly high rate of late-diagnoses of HIV, meaning that many people who become infected may not receive regular testing and could infect others before their diagnosis.
“Properly resourced and accessible sexual health services and testing means that we can stop a chain of infection early and treat those who are HIV positive to become untransmittable. Only 43% of the 23 public STI clinics across the state offer free walk-in services.
“I believe PrEP is a vital component in combatting rising HIV rates but this government’s lacklustre attempts in sexual health responses in the past leave much to be desired.”