Around half a million men in the European Union who have sex with men need HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) but cannot access it, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).
A paper published in Eurosurveillance presents data from ECDC monitoring programmes and the European Men-Who-Have-Sex-With-Men Internet Study (EMIS-2017), which highlight the ‘PrEP gap’.
The authors from the National AIDS Trust (NAT), the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Public Health England and the ECDC used data from EMIS-2017 to compare the proportion of men who have sex with men (MSM) who stated they were ‘very likely’ to use PrEP if it was accessible to them, with the proportion of those who currently use PrEP from any available source. The estimated PrEP gap ranged from 44.8 per cent in Russia to 4.3 per cent in Portugal.
An overall estimate of the PrEP gap for the EU was calculated as 17.4 per cent, equating to 500,000 (95% CI 420,000-610,000) MSM who would be very likely to use PrEP but are not currently able to access it.
Lead author, Rosalie Hayes, said the findings are very concerning and should act as a wake-up call to countries across the EU.