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April 19, 2016

NHS England to reconsider decision on HIV prevention treatment PrEP

NHS England is planning to reconsider its previously made decision not to fund the new HIV treatment pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

By Srivari Aishwarya

NHS HIV

NHS England is planning to reconsider its previously made decision not to fund the new HIV treatment pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP).

PrEP is a new way of using anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), which are usually used for treating people with diagnosed HIV, to stop those at very highest risk from contracting the virus.

NHS earlier said that local authorities are responsible to offer HIV prevention services and it will no longer consider whether to commission PrEP.

However, it is now set to reconsider its decision, following a legal threat from the National AIDS Trust (NAT).

NAT chief executive Deborah Gold said: "We welcome this change of mind from NHS England. NHS England had previously told us that it was impossible for them to reconsider their decision.

"Faced with legal action, they have now changed their mind. We trust that NHS England, when it re-evaluates its position, will come back with a resounding yes."

Last month, NHS England announced that it will provide up to £2m in financing over the next two years to run early implementer test sites.

The test sites will treat nearly 500 men who are at high risk of HIV infection.

"The PrEP treatment could halt the spread of HIV and potentially save lives. It could make a significant breakthrough in reducing the risk of HIV infection."

NHS England also said that it will work with local authorities, Public Health England, the Department of Health and other stakeholders to make PrEP available for HIV prevention.

Local Government Association Community Wellbeing spokeswoman, Councillor Izzi Seccombe said: "Councils are keen to work with NHS England and the Department of Health to find a solution that can enable this ground-breaking prevention method to be delivered throughout our communities.

"The PrEP treatment could halt the spread of HIV and potentially save lives. It could make a significant breakthrough in reducing the risk of HIV infection.

"Councils have invested millions in providing sexual health services since taking over responsibility for public health three years ago, and this treatment could help reduce levels of HIV in the community.


Image: Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocyte. Photo: courtesy of C. Goldsmith.

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