HIV drug to be made 'routinely available' on NHS from April

15 March 2020, 11:12

PrEP is to be made "routinely available" on the NHS
PrEP is to be made "routinely available" on the NHS. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A preventative HIV drug is due to be made "routinely available" on the NHS from April this year.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis - better known as PrEP - prevents HIV infection and will be made accessible to people considered at a greater risk of contracting HIV, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

The costs of the drug will be covered by NHS England, who have carried out a three-year study into the medicine that involved more than 20,000 people.

Superstar musician and Aids activist Sir Elton John told the publication the decision was the "right" one.

He added: "Taking PrEP prevents HIV from being passed on, which is truly incredible.

"It is the right decision for the UK government to roll this out more widely to minimise the spread of this disease so more people are protected - which is critical in fighting any epidemic."

Aids activist Elton John said it is "the right decision" to made PrEP available on the NHS
Aids activist Elton John said it is "the right decision" to made PrEP available on the NHS. Picture: PA

In Scotland, the drug is already available to those deemed at a greater risk of being diagnosed with HIV. A trial of the drug is currently taking place in Wales.

There are roughly 103,800 people in the UK who are HIV-positive, according to the Terrence Higgins Trust, and about seven per cent of those are not aware of their diagnosis.

New diagnoses of the virus in the UK fell to their lowest level in almost two decades in 2018. The number was reduced to 4,484 thanks to preventative measures, Public Health England said.

These include HIV testing, condom provision, and wider use of PrEP.

Health secretary Matt Hancock told the paper: "This will benefit tens of thousands of people's lives and drive us towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions in this decade."

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