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NHS England scraps plans to make PrEP, a drug that prevents HIV, available

NHS England scraps plans to make PrEP, a drug that prevents HIV, available

Truvada/ PrEP study found zero out of 600 gay men contracted HIV

The NHS will not offer PrEP, a HIV prevention drug proven to be effective in stopping HIV transmission.

In a shock to health charities and politicians, the British health provider said following an 18-month consideration it would not fund Truvada in the majority of cases.

The main reason cited was ‘NHS England is not responsible for commissioning prevention services’.

NHS England does fund other medication to protect sexual health, such as the oral contraceptive pill.

Deborah Gold, chief executive of the National AIDS Trust, said: ‘NAT shares the anger and distress felt by many thousands of people across the country at NHS England’s decision to abandon its work to provide PrEP, near the end of the process. In a shocking U-turn, NHS England has pulled the plug on over 18 months of hard work which demonstrated the need, efficacy and the cost-effectiveness of PrEP.’

The NHS recently employed a study into PrEP, which found when taken properly was highly successful in preventing the transmission of HIV.

Ian Green, Terrence Higgins Trust CEO, noted: ‘Over 2,500 men who have sex with men are diagnosed with HIV each year in the UK. This figure has not changed in a decade.

‘It is quite clear that although we have had some huge advances in HIV treatment, HIV prevention is something that we are still struggling with.’

The NHS said it would invest £2 million, protecting 500 men at ‘high risk of HIV infection’, in further tests.

The HIV experts slammed the £2 million figure as ‘arbitrary’, ‘disingenuous’ and ‘not informed by any due process’.

‘This is simple maladministration with serious consequences,’ Gold added. ‘Over 5,000 gay men will get HIV over the next two years – very many of whom would not have done so if PrEP had been delivered as proposed.’

At the London mayoral hustings held this evening (21 March), politicians reacted to the news as it came in.

Sadiq Khan, for Labour, described it as a ‘terrible decision’ by the NHS, while Zac Goldsmith for the Conservatives called PrEP an ‘avoidable non-brainer’. All candidates slammed the decision and hoped the NHS would change its mind.

The US, Canada, France, Israel and Kenya have all made PrEP available in some way.