HIV-prevention pill now available at Dutch clinics; waiting lists expected

From today GGD health institutions will start providing the HIV prevention pill PrEP and the medical care that comes with it. The pill is intended for homosexual men, who are at higher risk of contracting HIV. The GGDs expect that thousands of men will want to use PrEP, NOS reports.

The Ministry of Public Health is giving the GGDs a subsidy for PrEP for the next five years. The subsidy involves a total amount of 22 million euros, with the assumption that 6,500 men will use the pill. The Ministry's PrEP regulation shows that most participants are expected in Noord-Holland and Flevoland - 2,648 - and the least in Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen - 266. 

But the RIVM estimates that there will be around 8,500 people who want to participate in the PrEP program. "So we have to make selections in the consultation room", Rinske van der Bij of the GGD's national PrEP coordination team said to NOS. "For example, we can look at homosexual men under the age of 25, because they often have different sexual contacts. But homosexual asylum seekers are also at risk. We cannot serve everyone."

In addition, many GGD clinics are not yet ready for the PrEP program. "Not even 10 of the 24 locations can start in August, the rest will follow later", Van der Bij said. "We have to recruit extra staff for it." The clinics therefore expect that there will be waiting lists.

The PrEP program is not as simple as taking a pill. The program also includes additional care and controls. For example, PrEP users must regularly take an STD test and receive medical counseling.