Government Uturns on HIV game changer PrEP
Terrence Higgins Trust expressed shock and disbelief as structured plans for PrEP availability on the NHS are shelved. The HIV sector has been waiting for the announcement of the first ever public consultation on PrEP for HIV prevention in the UK, now overdue by a month. Instead today NHS England announced there and will be no public consultation and plans have been abandoned
Ian Green, Terrence Higgins Trust CEO said:
'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.
'By denying full availability of PrEP we are failing those who are at risk of HIV. Today’s decision by NHS England to depart with due process, and, instead, offer a tokenistic nod to what has the potential to revolutionise HIV prevention in the UK, is shameful.
'£2 million over two years for 500 gay men ‘most at risk’ is an arbitrary figure which seems ill thought out and will still deny the protection that PrEP offers to the people who most need it. We know that PrEP works and already have substantial data from a real world setting from the PROUD trial. PrEP has already been approved in the US, Kenya, Israel, Canada, France.
'And yet, our own government refuses to take responsibility for PrEP. Today’s statement makes it no clearer who is responsible – is it the Department of Health, local authorities, the NHS or Public Health England? We need answers, we need access, and we demand both.'
The public consultation would have been one of the final steps before a decision is made on NHS availability for the HIV game changer - already available in the US, France, Canada, Israel, and Kenya. The consultation response forms part of a submission to the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG), the body that it had been thought would say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to PrEP, at its next meeting in June.
See the NHS England announcement.