David Taylor: Nurses at forefront of PrEP Impact trial
As the PrEP Impact trial gets under way, sexual health nurses will be at the forefront of ensuring it is available for those who need it and supporting them every step of the way, says nurse practitioner David Taylor.
As the PrEP Impact trial gets under way, sexual health nurses will be at the forefront of ensuring it is available for those who need it and supporting them every step of the way, says nurse practitioner David Taylor
From September, the drug PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is being provided to 10,000 people across England who are at high risk of contracting HIV, mostly men who have sex with other men.
The initial three-year PrEP Impact trial, announced by NHS England in August, is the culmination of a long battle for PrEP to be provided on the NHS, and those of us working in sexual health services couldn’t be more pleased.
PrEP isn’t new. The first study was conducted in 2010 in South America, testing Truvada for pre-sexual exposure protection. This targets areas in which HIV is likely to replicate, such as the rectal mucosa, stopping the virus from multiplying.
In 2012, PrEP was approved for use across the United States, and shortly afterwards the World Health Organization (WHO) cited it as a major drug in HIV prevention. This was a significant breakthrough given HIV rates in the US.
A version of the drug was produced in the UK in 2014, with the 2015 PROUD study reporting an 86% reduction in HIV infections in men who have sex with other men taking PrEP. The movement gained momentum as word spread, and confidence in the research began to grow.
In June, the WHO added PrEP to its ‘essential medicines’ list. But the ensuing battle over who was going to pay for this game-changing drug became messy, with NHS England claiming HIV prevention was not its responsibility.
The National AIDS Trust (NAT) successfully challenged NHS England over this in the High Court earlier this year. The PrEP Impact trial born on the back of the NAT’s victory will look at how PrEP can be safely and effectively issued within sexual health services, with nurses at the forefront of educating, empowering and helping patients to make healthy lifestyle choices.
We will be making sure PrEP is available to those who need it most, and supporting them every step of the way.
David Taylor is nurse practitioner at 56 Dean Street, Soho, London