PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is now available in both Scotland and Wales, and we have been promised by NHS England that there will be a staggered roll-out of PrEP in England as of September 2017.
What is PrEP?
PrEP is a course of HIV drugs taken by HIV negative people before sex to reduce the chance of getting HIV.
The UK’s PROUD study reported an 86 per cent reduction in HIV infections in men who have sex with men (MSM) taking PrEP - this figure included people who were not taking PrEP at the time they were infected. The protection PrEP offers is thought to be near complete when taken as prescribed.
More information about PrEP research.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that PrEP should be made available immediately for those MSM at greatest risk.
More about how PrEP works and how to access it.
PrEP in England
In December 2016, NHS England promised a large-scale PrEP trial (called the IMPACT trial). It will take place across the country and will look not only at the uptake of the drug but also how long people stay on it in a real world setting. The trial will start in September 2017 and will be rolled out across the country over several months.
Now that we have a date for the start of the PrEP impact trial in England, the priority must be to make sure that the trial reaches everyone who would benefit, and that it is rolled out speedily across the whole country. NHS England has stated that the roll out will be completed by spring 2018 but this is not soon enough.
The PrEP trial drug has now been procured, so we’re well on the way to protecting over 10,000 people at risk of HIV. To make sure no-one at risk of HIV is left behind and that the trial reaches all communities at risk, it is crucial that at the end of this trial in three years time there is agreement on a clear process for routinely commissioning PrEP on the NHS.
NHS England expects sexual health clinics in London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield to be some of the first to start enrolling people in September 2017, with more to follow.
There is further information on the PrEP Impact Trial website.
Although the PrEP impact trial will start in September 2017, our goal remains to campaign to ensure that PrEP is part of routine service provision on the NHS, available for all those individuals at risk of HIV infection.
Read Ian Green's Huffington Post blog on this announcement.
Download our full briefing on PrEP [PDF]
PrEP in Scotland
In April 2017, Scotland became the first country in the UK to approve PrEP to all those at risk. It is to be rolled out across the country by NHS Scotland from July 2017. We are working with other HIV organisations such as HIV Scotland to ensure that when PrEP is rolled out, there aren’t any postcode lotteries and that all local health boards provide PrEP to those who need it.
To find out more information on how to access PrEP on the NHS in Scotland, visit the PrepScot website.
PrEP in Wales
In November 2016, the Minister for Social Services and Public Health announced the establishment of a PrEP expert group to examine the effectiveness of PrEP in Wales. In March 2017 the All Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) reported that it did not believe that PrEP was cost-effective and as such recommended against the use of PrEP on the NHS in Wales.
In April 2017 however, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport announced a PrEP study, to look at how best to provide PrEP to reduce risks of HIV transmission in Wales and answer some of the questions raised by the AWMSG around incidence rates.
The three year pilot started on 17 July 2017, and is open to all Welsh residents for whom PrEP is clinically appropriate and as such, has no cap on the number of people who will be able to access it. A Welsh Government steering group, of which Terrence Higgins Trust is a member, has been established to oversee the pilot.
PrEP will only be made available via GUM clinics in Wales. To find out more information on how to access PrEP as part of the pilot in Wales contact your local GUM or Integrated Sexual Health Service.
You can also visit the Public Health Wales website or the PrEP in Wales page on the iwantprepnow website.
We campaign on this issue as part of United4PrEP, a coalition of nearly one hundred organisations and individuals. To find out more about United4PrEP please contact email@example.com.