LGBT Labour has described the news that a roll-out of a HIV-preventing Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug has been abandoned as shocking and short-sighted.
There are 110,000 people living with HIV here in the UK, and each year over 6,000 people are diagnosed with the virus.
If taken daily PrEP has been shown to be extremely effective in reducing the risk of HIV transmission. It is readily available to at-risk men in the United States, and was expected to be made available following a successful recent study here in the UK.
Sadly, NHS England yesterday announced that they would not be rolling out the drug because ‘NHS England is not responsible for commissioning prevention services’.
In the House of Commons today, Labour MP Catherine West (Hornsey and Wood Green) asked the Secretary of State for Health to put an end to these erratic and inconsistent decisions and commit to a public health strategy that prevents as well as treats HIV.
Ian Dylan Thomas, LGBT Labour Co-Chair, said: “Thankfully real progress has been made in recent years in the detection and treatment of HIV, but it is clear we need a public health strategy that incorporates prevention as well as treatment and tackling social stigma. It is shocking that NHS England will only run test sites, which is in effect a postcode lottery of provision for around 500 men.
“I want to thank Catherine West MP for raising this important issue in the House of Commons today. I hope that Government listens to the concerns that she, and the LGBT community have raised.”
Catherine West MP said: “When the Government passed the Health and Social Care Act they argued that it would help make the system clearer, but now that NHS England is picking and choosing which preventative services it will fund and which it won’t.
“Real progress has been made in recent years in the detection and treatment of HIV, but it is clear we need a public health strategy that incorporates prevention as well as treatment and tackling social stigma. I urge the Secretary of State to put an end to these erratic and inconsistent decisions and commit to public health strategy that prevents as well as treats HIV. “
The Proud Study proved the clinical effectiveness of PrEP. The PROUD study measured the effectiveness of daily PrEP for gay and other men who have sex with men in England, reducing the risk of infection by 86%. The researchers concluded that PrEPoffers a major opportunity to curb new HIV infections in men who have sex with men in the UK.
Information regarding the Proud Study is here.