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According to new research by Gay Community News, 57 per cent of people taking PrEP are getting it from unregulated sources, particularly online providers.
The research undertaken by Gay Community News, on behalf of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, examined a number of areas in relation to PrEP such as; sexual health, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), attitudes on HIV and awareness and use of PrEP amongst the gay community. There were 622 respondents to the survey, of which 97 per cent were male. Teva is a provider of generic PrEP medication.
The research informs a new campaign entitled PrEPLoveLife. This campaign is designed to increase awareness of PrEP amongst groups most at risk of HIV infection and transmission while also informing the general public “on the overall positive effect PrEP has for modern day Ireland, in conjunction with safer sex practices”, according to a press release.
While the research findings show high levels of awareness of PrEP generally, 30 per cent of respondents did not know or were unsure whether it was available in Ireland.
One third of 24-to 30-year olds (33 per cent) – a key target group for HIV risk reduction strategies – were not aware or were unsure that PrEP was available in Ireland; only 10 per cent of respondents are currently using PrEP, with 81 per cent taking it on a daily basis; and of those using PrEP, a majority (57 per cent) said they obtain PrEP from unregulated sources, with the majority doing so online. The next largest sources were pharmacy (18 per cent), an STI clinic (15 per cent) or from a hospital (6 per cent).
On STI testing, the survey found that just 18 per cent of respondents has an STI test at least every three months, 24 per cent do so every six months, 38 per cent at least once a year, but 19 per cent rarely or ever do.
Some 65 per cent of those surveyed said that HIV is a topic of conversation amongst their peers, while almost three-in-five (58 per cent) said they would tell a new partner their HIV status before having sex with that partner.
Also, 55 per cent of those surveyed bring condoms with them on a date, while 43 per cent of respondents would not expect their date to bring condoms.