Dutch foundation PrEPnu hauls hiv cured “London patient” on board during Amsterdam pride due to failing PrEP policy
The PrEPnu (PrEPnow) Foundation brings one of the five ever from hiv cured people in the world to the Netherlands for her boat during the Amsterdam pride parade. Adam Castillejo is the second person to be cured of hiv and is one of an extremely small but fortunate group. After 40 years, hiv is still incurable and a chronic condition. There is also still no vaccine. This makes PrEP one of the most important means, in addition to testing, to prevent an hiv infection. “It is disturbing – according to PrEPnu – that after 10 years there is still no general access to PrEP in the Netherlands” and Adam Castillejo agrees. Giving lectures worldwide for better hiv prevention, treatment and feasible cure, he is shocked that in a country like the Netherlands this is still an issue. Therefore he is happy to attend the Amsterdam Pride to reinforce this message of PrEPnu.
The Netherlands lags far behind internationally
PrEP is a pill that you take daily or around seks. This prevents an hiv infection and is 99% proven effective when used correctly. Since PrEP came to existence, the PrEPnu Foundation has been committed to its availability in the Netherlands. That is quite exceptional because in many countries around us this struggle is not necessary. In countries such as Spain, France, England, Germany, Italy, but also outside Europe such as Zimbabwe and the United States, access to PrEP is well organised in various ways. This sometimes sparks international surprise, as Adam Castillejo also notes during his lectures worldwide. “I visit many different places where people need to be convinced and trust the importance of hiv prevention, and sometimes they are not aware of the overwhelming scientific evidence for the effectiveness of PrEP. But the fact that a progressive and educated country like the Netherlands is lagging behind internationally is really bizarre and harmful for Dutch people themselves.”
Status of new PrEP policy
The PrEPnu Foundation campaigns for a widely accessible PrEP policy and recently spoke with many stakeholders including Minister Kuipers, who is responsible for the dutch health policies. He has indicated that he is in favor of better availability and that he will soon come up with a new policy. PrEPnu; “We have heard that before, we are 10 years further though and the pandemic has been around for about 40 years.” Every year many hundreds of people are diagnosed with hiv in the Netherlands. We have to commit to get to 0 infections, as the Aidsfonds and the municipality of Amsterdam are striving for. This requires a broad approach from the GGD, general practitioners, other care providers and (network) organizations, but above all courage and a new policy from the minister. “Wide accessibility to PrEP is an absolute necessity. Many thousands of people in the Netherlands still have no or very limited access. While waiting, several people contracted an hiv infection. Totally unnecessary, harmful and traumatizing on a personal level, what are we doing?” says the spokesperson for the PrEPnu Foundation.
Time is running out
There is currently a pilot in the Netherlands with PrEP that only offers PrEP to a limited number and therefore not enough people. This pilot will end next year and time is running out for a new, more accessible PrEP policy. It is important that this does not come to a standstill, even now that the government has fallen, a new government will probably come too late. That is why the PrEPnu Foundation pulls out all the stops. “More than ever, we feel compelled to draw attention to the problem we see looming on the horizon. We were already disappointed that PrEP only became available as a pilot in the Netherlands, but if the minister does not come up with a good proposal soon, the pilot will end and we will again be left with nothing.” That is why the foundation now also called in international help from former hiv patient Adam Castillejo and organized a boat during the Amsterdam pride. In addition, an event will be organized on Friday, August 4th with Adam Castillejo and experts to inform people. Those who want to be there keep an eye on the website and social media of the PrEPnu foundation for time and location.