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“A lot of good work has been done implementing the National Sexual Health Strategy and we are increasing access to HIV testing, condoms, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), sexual health services, antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV and harm reduction interventions for people who use drugs,” said Minister Harris.
“While the figures for those being diagnosed with HIV are too high, it is encouraging that in 2016 there was a 6 per cent decline in HIV infections, where there was no history of previous HIV diagnosis abroad.
“We must and will do more in this area so that we can reduce the number of new infections and ensure the health and wellbeing of those living with HIV.”
Minister Harris also spoke on the issue of PrEP where he said that he was “very keen to see increased access to PrEP in Ireland and I welcome the news that from next week a generic form of the drug will be available, meaning more people are going to have access to it.”
“A lot of work is being done in this area. A working group has been set up to make recommendations in relation to (HIV) PrEP in Ireland and develop the necessary guidance, including developing standards for delivery of PrEP care, drafting a clinical management protocol for PrEP and a monitoring and evaluation framework. Work is planned in the near future to assess the feasibility of implementing the PrEP standards within public STI clinics.
“In the interim, practical guidance has been developed for health care providers and a patient information leaflet, to support people who are accessing PrEP themselves. A PrEP monitoring clinic is being piloted in the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS). People who are accessing PrEP themselves are strongly encouraged to attend for monitoring, either to their GP, their local sexual health service, or to the monitoring clinic in the GMHS.”
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