Terrance Higgins Trust, the British HIV and sexual health campaigning charity, has announced plans to fund HIV prevention drug PrEP for those who can’t afford it later this year.
The PrEP Access Fund was announced this morning by THT’s CEO Ian Green. Green is currently attending the 22nd annual International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam.
Up to 1,000 people in England and Northern Ireland will benefit from the fund, says the organization.
NHS England is currently running a three-year PrEP Impact Trial, however there’s a set number of spaces for gay and bi men and a number of clinics have reached their quota. This has resulted in many gay and bisexual men being turned away from clinics and unable to access PrEP.
Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, PrEP is only available for those who can afford to buy it privately. PrEP is currently commissioned by the NHS in Scotland, and is available in Wales as part of a trial study.
Speaking to Gay Star News, Green said: ‘PrEP is a game-changer in HIV prevention, and it’s crucial that all people who need it are able to access it.
‘To ensure this happens, and to make sure there is equity in PrEP access in England and Northern Ireland, we are stepping in to support those who need PrEP who are also in most financial need.’
He furthermore added: ‘We will continue to lobby for NHS England to routinely commission PrEP, and will support our friends in Northern Ireland as they continue to pursue routine commissioning there.’
In a statement Green furthermore said: ‘The fact that a charity is having to step in to fund PrEP access to those in most financial need is an embarrassment, and demonstrates the crucial need for NHS England, local authorities in England and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland to act now.
‘People who are being denied access to PrEP and who are unable to afford it are being put at risk of contracting HIV, which is completely unacceptable.
‘We need to see additional spaces for gay and bisexual men added to the NHS PrEP Impact Trial as a matter of urgency, and routine commissioning of PrEP in both England and Northern Ireland.
‘Last week, we were one of 32 organisations who came together to call for routine commissioning of PrEP in England by April 2019.’
The fund will cover a three-month supply of generic PrEP at a time, in the form of vouchers for PrEP provider Dynamix, the preferred seller of iwantprepnow (part of THT).
The PrEP Access Fund will be rolled out in autumn 2018.