NHS England has, in the last few minutes, announced the date for the start of PrEP trials.
From September, an estimated 10,000 people will have access to the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug. It will be provided by the NHS as part of a three year trial. It’s due to be the biggest single study of it’s type in the world.
The trial will assess the full potential of PrEP and will answer important questions regarding its most effective and cost effective implementation.
London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield will be the first cities to be able to offer the drug. More clinics across the country will join in October.
People who access PrEP through the NHS trial will get the drug completely free.
A full implementation across England will be complete by April 2018.
Chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said: ‘This major new intervention should complement and supercharge the wide-ranging and increasingly successful effort to prevent HIV.
‘It’s another milestone in more than three decade’s worth of progress in tackling one of humanity’s major health challenges.’
‘This is a hugely important trial, and one we need’
A wide range of people could be eligible to take part in the trial. But gay and bi men are likely to be a particular target for the drug. People who have a partner who is HIV-positive status but their HIV is not controlled by treatment will also be likely to be given PrEP.
Deborah Gold, chief executive at National AIDS Trust said: ‘This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV. PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at risk, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic.’
NHS England announced it’s intention to launch a large scale clinical trial in December 2016. The Court of Appeal confirmed that they have the power to fund PrEP drugs, but not the obligation to. This followed a prolonged legal battle with National AIDS Trust and others pushing for the drug to be rolled out.
Professor Brian Gazzard is Chair of St Stephen’s AIDS Trust and Chief Investigator for the PrEP Impact Trial. He said: ‘This is a hugely important and ambitious trial, and one which we need. There is a more diverse population of high risk individuals for whom PrEP.
‘Its associated risk reduction support could mean the difference between staying HIV negative or becoming HIV positive.
‘The data and evidence we generate will not only be of international interest but more importantly will enable commissioners in England to plan for a PrEP programme that benefits individuals and the taxpayer.’