Summer’s here... Where is PrEP?
Campaigners have expressed they are ‘seriously concerned’ about delays to the long-awaited PrEP trial in England.
Six months ago, in early December, NHS England announced it would be funding a PrEP trial for people at risk of HIV, giving 10,000 people access to the game-changing prevention treatment.
However, over half a year has passed since then and the trial has not materialised. After much pressure to release a timeframe, the government announced this would happen 'in the summer'.
In the meantime, Scotland has announced it will make PrEP routinely available on the NHS for those at risk by July. Wales has announced plans to introduce a PrEP pilot by Monday 17 July. England is falling behind.
United4PrEP, a coalition of charities and individuals campaigning for PrEP to be made available, expressed doubt that the summer deadline will be reached, and is calling for more speed and transparency from NHS England and Public Health England.
The United4PrEP coalition, which includes Terrence Higgins Trust, said: 'We are seriously concerned that NHS England and Public Health England are not fully committed to the PrEP trial that was promised over six months ago. They have repeatedly missed their own deadlines, and kept their plans vague so they cannot be held to account.
'At first we were told the trial would be "early in the financial year". Then, when that didn’t happen, we were told "the summer". Now we’re well into June, and the long-awaited PrEP trial is now looking as elusive as the British summer itself.
'Without the trial, 17 people a day will continue to be diagnosed with HIV. We urgently need to speed up access to PrEP for all those at risk of HIV.'
Now that summer has begun, the countdown is on. Members of United4PrEP, including Terrence Higgins Trust, are increasing the pressure on NHS England and Public Health England to get PrEP to those in need as a matter of urgency.
Update on PrEP trial – 23 June 2017
Public Health England and NHS England have announced that procurement for the drug has begun and should be complete by the end of July:
‘NHS England expects to be able to confirm the award of the final contract by 31 July 2017, meaning trial drugs could be available from early August, in readiness for the trial to begin once ethics approval is received and trial sites are prepared.’
Read the full update from Public Health England and NHS England.