Scotland ‘makes history’ as first UK country to commission PrEP through the NHS
People at risk of HIV in Scotland will be able to access the HIV prevention drug through the NHS.
People at risk of HIV in Scotland will be able to access game-changing HIV prevention drug PrEP through the NHS, it has been announced today. This means Scotland will become the first country in the UK to routinely commission PrEP on the NHS.
Robert McKay, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, has applauded the decision, but warned of a potential ‘postcode lottery’ in the UK. There is still a long way to go before everyone at risk in the UK has access to PrEP.
“Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic. We are delighted that people at risk of HIV in Scotland will finally have access to this groundbreaking pill that will protect them from HIV,” said Robert.
“This makes Scotland the first country in the UK to routinely commission PrEP on the NHS. It can now be used as a vital tool in our HIV prevention armoury – alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment - to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.
“Preventing the spread of HIV is good news for everyone. Not only will this make a life-changing difference to each of these individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.
“We applaud the Scottish Medicines Consortium for acting on the overwhelming evidence for the clinical effectiveness of PrEP, and taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland. We are also grateful to HIV Scotland and the many other organisations and individuals who have tirelessly campaigned and enabled this decision to happen.
“NHS Boards in Scotland now need to make sure they heed the expert advice from SMC and make PrEP available to their patients who are identified as at risk of HIV as a matter of urgency.
“In the meantime, it is brilliant to see Scotland leading the way in stopping HIV transmission – but there’s a long way to go before everyone at risk in the UK has access to PrEP.
“NHS Wales makes its decision on PrEP later this month, and we hope they will follow Scotland’s leadership in preventing HIV.
“Meanwhile a long-awaited PrEP trial from NHS England and Public Health England is still yet to materialise. We urgently need answers on when exactly the trial will begin and who will have access to it, and ultimately, assurance that the NHS will retain responsibility for PrEP in England when the trial comes to an end.
“We must not let PrEP become a postcode lottery – it should be available to all those at risk, regardless of where they live in the UK.”