Last night a documentary about the PROUD HIV prevention study premiered at the Cinema Museum in London. Nicholas Feustal, the filmmaker, introduced the film, which was followed by an expert panel discussion.
The PROUD study showed that Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) - taking a pill daily that is usually used to treat HIV - is highly effective at protecting people from being infected with HIV. The film explores:
- Why new HIV prevention approaches are needed in the UK
- How the PROUD study was able to answer the question
- What it found - both on HIV prevention, and what effect it had on other sexually transmitted infections
- What being on PrEP means for some of the men who took part in the study
- The future of PrEP in the UK
Will Nutland, from Sigma Research at LSHTM, who chaired the discussion, said "The film is an essential part of raising awareness about PrEP and for advocating for its availability in the UK. It is very clear from the discussion that the question is no longer: does PrEP work and should it be available? Rather, PrEP works for certain, so how do we get it to those who most need it, as soon as we can?"
The film features interviews with people who took part in the trial, doctors, scientists, public health experts and community advocates.
Nick Feustal, the film maker, said: "I have been following PrEP research since 2010, and, as a gay man, was very excited about the early results, showing that PrEP works if you take it. So I was even more excited when I got the opportunity to do the video documentary on the PROUD Study, which showed that PrEP also works as a public health intervention for gay men.
"I think this film will be very useful to disseminate knowledge around PrEP to a wider audience. It will help people understand that PrEP is not just about taking pills. If implemented properly, PrEP will be part of a comprehensive health package that can positively impact HIV-negative gay men's health in a way we haven't seen before in the past three decades of our response to HIV."
Nicholas also directed a further documentary 'Voices of the Participants' exploring the experiences of three of the participants in the PROUD study.
Further screenings of the film are planned in various locations in the UK. Details of these will be available on the PROUD website.
You can also watch the full documentary and the film 'Voices of the Participants' online via Vimeo.
The premiere was hosted by the MRC CTU at UCL, NAM, Sigma Research and ReShape, and the film was funded by the Medical Research Council. The PROUD study was led by the MRC CTU at UCL and Public Health England in partnership with 12 NHS trusts in England.