A coalition made up of more than 30 charities and organisations is calling on NHS England and local health authorities to make PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) available to everybody who needs it by April 1 2019.
PrEP prevents people getting HIV and is almost 100% effective when taken as prescribed. The drug has been proven to be cost effective when measured against the cost of lifelong HIV treatment and care.
Last September, NHS England announced they would be launching a three-year trial that will prescribe PrEP to to an estimated 10,000 people who need it. Eight months into the trial, and 8,000 people have already enrolled and sites are turning people away. Whilst NHS England announced in June 2018 that a proposal for a further 3,000 places was being considered, the coalition is calling for an urgent response to the high demand for PrEP in the country.
In a joint community statement, the coalition declared that “we cannot wait until late 2020 to do something about the current situation. We need a national programme as soon as possible to ensure PrEP is made available to everyone in England who needs it.”
NHS England and local authority commissioners must start the process now to ensure PrEP is
routinely available in sexual health clinics by 1 April 2019 at the latest.
Both NHS England and local authority commissioners should agree and disseminate as soon as possible a timetabled roadmap of the necessary decision-making process. In the meantime a solution must be found to ensure no one in need of PrEP is turned away.
Having a national PrEP programme will mean that assurance can not only be found to those who are currently accessing PrEP but to also those who believe they need to have it and aren’t currently able to.
Matthew Riley, Marketing & Communications at INvolve and OUTstanding, said in an article on Metro that “it’s time to finally banish the shadow that has hung over the sex lives of gay and bisexual men, and give PrEP a long-term and sustainable home on our NHS.”
Organisations to be part of the coalition include Terrance Higgins Trust, Stonewall, Africa Advocacy Foundation, GMFA, LGBT Foundation, and Prepster.