Amsterdam opens HIV prevention to 1,700 more at-risk people

Pills (Photo: MorgueFile / Wikimedia Commons)Pills (Photo: MorgueFile / Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday Amsterdam is starting with the national PrEP program, a nationwide experiment in which the HIV prevention pill is prescribed to a limited number of people with a higher risk of contracting the disease. From today, up to 1,700 gay and transgender Amsterdam residents can sign up for the program through the GGD Amsterdam site.

"Our goal is zero new HIV infections in Amsterdam", healthcare alderman SImone Kukenheim said in a press release. "The PrEP program is an important tool for this because it protects people before they get infected. By focusing on prevention in combination with other interventions, the HIV epidemic can be further reduced."

The program has room for nearly 2,200 Amsterdam participants. Some 500 of these spots have already been reserved for Amsterdam residents who are already using PrEP through the GGD. Like GGD clinics warned last month, Kukenheim expects that the 1,700 spots available in Amsterdam will be too few. "My concern is that we have too few spots to prevent new infections on a structural basis. I will therefore urge the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports to increase the number of places", she said.

Due to the limited capacity of the program, GGD Amsterdam will give priority to people with the highest risk of being infected with HIV. The 1,700 spots in Amsterdam will firstly go to transgender people and gay men who are younger than 25, people in these groups who do not have health insurance, and people who recently immigrated from a non-Western country, the municipality of Amsterdam said. For the time being, other at-risk people will be urged to talk to their GP about prescribing PrEP and providing the care that goes with it.