NHS England has announced that from September pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will be available through the NHS as part of a three-year trial. This announcement comes a year and a day after an historic win for NAT (National AIDS Trust) at the High Court that confirmed the NHS’s legal ability to fund the drug, which stops people from getting HIV.
The trial will provide PrEP to a minimum of 10,000 participants. Eligible participants for the trial will be able to access PrEP through sexual health clinics and will include men, women, transgender people, and individuals with HIV positive partners whose viral load is not known to be controlled by HIV medication.
The medical effectiveness of the drug in preventing HIV infection is clear and well established. The NHS will use this trial to gather evidence on how to optimise uptake and implementation of a PrEP programme on a large scale.
Deborah Gold, chief executive at NAT (National AIDS Trust) said: “We already know that PrEP brings down rates of HIV infection, changing lives for those at risk and saving public money. We now need to work with NHS England, local authorities, and the sexual health sector to make sure the widest possible range of eligible people at high risk of HIV have access to the trial. We will continue to monitor the uptake of PrEP, aiming to learn as much as possible about how to get PrEP to all those who need it most.
“This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV. PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at high risk of HIV, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic. From September, people at high risk of HIV will have access via the NHS in England to an empowering new tool that is truly individual controlled and not subject to negotiation with a partner, leading to the improvement of many, many lives. We warmly welcome this announcement.”