New HIV Prevention Clinic to do things differently for NI

Date published: 11 September 2018

A new HIV Prevention Clinic for Northern Ireland will transform and improve sexual health services for people in Northern Ireland.

HIV Prevention Clinic

As part of the Department of Health’s ongoing drive to improve health and social care here, the new regional HIV Prevention Clinic will work to truly transform the way that HIV services are delivered for local people.

Based at the Belfast Trust as part of its Genitourinary Medicine (GUM) provision, the new HIV Prevention Clinic will provide services including:

  • a comprehensive process of testing for sexual transmitted infections,
  • behavioural interventions aimed at reducing unsafe sex,
  • and access to the HIV prevention drug PrEP which can reduce the risk of contracting HIV in high risk populations by up to 86%.

In Northern Ireland, approximately 100 new cases of HIV are diagnosed every year. Numbers of new diagnoses continue to rise in Northern Ireland, whereas they are falling in the rest of the UK, with the lifetime treatment costs for one person with HIV currently standing at approximately £380,000.

Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland said: “To truly transform and improve health and social care in Northern Ireland we must look at how we can deliver services which are preventative, dynamic and which put people at the heart of all that we do. This new HIV prevention clinic is all of these things. It has the potential to help us tackle the rise in new diagnoses of HIV in Northern Ireland and I look forward to celebrating its successes.”

The pilot clinic will run for an initial two years and will see an investment of £450,000 in 2018/19 from the health and social care system’s transformation fund.  It is hoped that the investment in this clinic will prevent new cases of HIV. Anyone who wishes to access this prevention package should attend their local GUM clinic and will be assessed, advised and referred appropriately to the prevention clinic which currently operates in Belfast GUM.

Dr Carol Emerson, the lead clinician for HIV at Belfast Trust, and who is heading up this new service added: “This is a very exciting development for GUM provision in Northern Ireland. It is so important to empower people to protect themselves from acquiring HIV.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. PrEP is a medication taken by HIV negative people to reduce the risk of getting HIV.  The drugs are targeted at those who are at high risk of getting HIV.  The medication used for PrEP is a tablet called emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate.
  2. For more information on GUM clinics go to: www.nidirect.gov.uk/gum-clinics
  3. On 9 May 2018 the Department of Health announced details of a series of initiatives being funded from the £100m Transformation Fund, confirmed for 2018/19, as part of the 2018/19 budget statement made in March 2018.
  4. For media queries please contact the Department of Health Press Office team on 028 9052 0579 or email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk. For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Office directly on 028 9037 8110. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt 

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