On the 8th of December the Tweede Kamer quietly binned the modest proposal by D66 and Groenlinks to subsidize PrEP for four hundred “at risk” people. And with that vote, the chance of getting affordable PrEP in the Netherlands in the foreseeable future all but evaporated.
For those living under a rock this past year and who haven’t heard of PrEP, a short summary. PrEP (standing for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is Truvada, an HIV medication that is also extremely effective in preventing people contracting HIV. It is usually taken daily but can also be taken intermittently.
Like all subjects to do with safe sex, it is controversial in so much as it offers an alternative to “condoms only,” and upends all the prevailing wisdom of the last thirty years of the HIV epidemic.
What’s not controversial is that it works. In cities like San Francisco, where it’s been available for four years, there’s been a thirty-five percent decrease in new HIV infections. London’s main gay men’s health clinic saw a forty percent drop in HIV infections in one year. The Aidsfonds has estimated that introducing PrEP will prevent 1,000 to 2,500 new HIV infections in Holland over the next ten years.
PrEP is covered by insurance or available in basically unlimited trials in the USA, France, the United Kingdon, Israel, South Africa, Kenya, Australia and Norway. Other countries allow the private importation of generic (and thus affordable) drugs. Neither option is available in the Netherlands. To access PrEP here, you need to pay the full 531 euros per month, something nobody but the very wealthy can afford.
A year of behind the scenes lobbying is apparently not enough. It’s time for the gay community to let its voice be heard and to hold the parties who voted against PrEP - PvdA, VVD, SP and PVV - accountable. And to take matters into our own hands.
On February 2 we will hold the “PrEP Debacle” in Club Church. We will review what has gone wrong, Amsterdam politicians will explain what we can do here, activists from Prepnu will tell how they obtain their PrEP safely and medical doctors will speak of the care and concerns of using PrEP.
The inspiring Dr. Deyn, the “international gay doctor” from Thailand running two gay men’s health clinics in Bangkok and himself a passionate PrEP advocate, will be one of the guest speakers. The well-known sociologist Linda Duits will be moderator of the evening.
Thursday, February 2, 20:00-22:00
Club Church, Kerkstraat 52, 1017 GM Amsterdam
More info: clubchurch.nl