A stalemate over who would take more patients on to PrEP trial has ended. London councils have agreed to increase places on city PrEP trial.
Earlier this year Health Secretary Matt Hancock ordered a doubling of places on London’s PrEP Impact trial. PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a HIV preventative medication, proven to be 99% effective at preventing HIV.
It is not yet subsidized on the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK. But the trial has allowed thousands of people at high risk of acquiring HIV to be on PrEP.
London councils agreed to take 60% of the new places in London rather than the full 100%. HIV experts have warned though that London is lagging behind other parts of the UK.
‘London continues to outstrip every other part of the UK in the number of new HIV diagnoses each year so it’s critical a sustainable solution for PrEP is found,’ said Debbie Laycock, head of policy at Terrence Higgins Trust.
‘Today’s news is progress but this remains a job only half complete as places must be doubled to address the high demand seen for PrEP.
‘We need urgent leadership on this from NHS England, the Department for Health & Social Care and councils across the capital because no one at risk of HIV should be turned away.
Is 60% enough?
The announcement comes as more than two-third of sites in London are now closed to gay and bisexual men. The National AIDS Trust (NAT) said 14 of 23 currently have no places available for gay and bisexual men.
NAT argued the result is men needing PrEP are being turned away and some will go on to acquire HIV as a result. Campaigners warned the temporary measure will not be enough.
‘The overdue decision by London’s sexual health commissioners to accept 60% of the additional PrEP places on offer will, in the short term, mean a welcome reopening of clinics to gay and bisexual men in need of PrEP,’ said Deborah Gold, chief executive of NAT.
‘However, London’s councils need to ensure that sexual health clinics never again shut their doors to people in need of PrEP.
‘The refusal to accept the remaining 40% of new PrEP places is deeply worrying, risking simply postponing for a few months yet another crisis in PrEP access for gay and bisexual men in the capital.
‘We urge London’s councils to accept the remaining 40% of places as a matter of urgency and work with the community to ensure the Government supports a properly funded, uncapped national PrEP programme as soon as possible.’