Cork Independent: HIV prevention programme welcomed
The introduction of a programme designed to prevent HIV has been dubbed as a real game changer by Cork's Sexual Health Centre.
A report on the new programme was published on Tuesday by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) confirming that the new pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) programme is a safe and highly effective method for preventing HIV in people at substantial risk.
Speaking to the Cork Independent, Executive Director of the Sexual Health Centre, Martin Davoren said: “It is really welcome news. It’s a real game changer. I think in Ireland we’ve really seen the HIV rates going up over the last couple of years which has put us, as a nation, in a very compromising position. PrEP is a safe, effective and cost-saving measure where people can take ownership of their sexual health and will no longer be at risk of contracting HIV in the future.”
PrEP is the most recent development in the field of HIV prevention, involving the pre-emptive use of oral antiretroviral therapy in HIV negative people to prevent future infection.
“Once you take it every day, it’s a very effective measure. Even if you have been exposed to the virus, PrEP will ensure that it doesn’t take hold in your body and you will not contract the virus,” said Mr Davoren.
A PrEP programme involves the pre-emptive use of antiretroviral medication to prevent HIV infection, within a holistic service which includes regular monitoring and testing, as well as advice and counselling on safer sex practices.
On Tuesday, HIQA also launched a public consultation of the new programme in order to hear the public’s opinion before it is finalised.
Mr Davoren said: “They have opened a public consultation and we as an organisation are definitely going to be interacting with that and participating. It’s crucial to get this right. It’s a big step and a big change and we want to be part of the solution.”
Also welcoming the programme was Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD who said: “Many of the people who would stand to benefit from a PrEP programme are from vulnerable or stigmatised groups in our society, so it is important that we continue to work to reach out and encourage more people to get tested and avail of the treatments and supports available.”
HIV is a notifiable disease in Ireland. All new diagnoses notified in Ireland are reported nationally by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). It is estimated that approximately 7,200 people live with HIV in Ireland currently.