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Lack of PrEP Awareness, Not Cost, Hurting Uptake

February 26, 2018

A recent presentation at the European PrEP Summit argues that ignorance surrounding the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to prevent HIV is the main barrier to uptake.

The first ever European PrEP Summit took place in Amsterdam and assembled a group of key stakeholders including health care providers and decision makers, in order to better understand the barriers to implementing PrEP preventative treatment for HIV.

During the Summit, presenters identified ignorance and lack of education regarding the availability of PrEP, its adverse events, and social and institutional stigma surrounding the treatment as the primary barriers facing PrEP uptake. The presenters noted that Eurpoe currently lags behind the USA in terms of PrEP uptake, despite lower costs for the drugs in Europe.

Other barriers identified by the presenters included, lack of knowledge among patients who could benefit from PrEP—especially among high-risk women. Additionally, they identified access barriers, including assessments appointments, tests, and test for PrEP dispensing as barriers that discourage or make access to treatment more difficult.

They also noted that the additional physician and staff training needed to improve PrEP access could also impact uptake by adding a workload and cost burden to already stressed health care systems.

The presenters lauded recent decisions in the United Kingdom and France to offer low cost or cost-free PrEP as a step in the right direction—but highlight that the additional barriers caused by ignorance need to be overcome in order to increase uptake and reduce HIV infection rates.

David Costill

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