NHS England will officially not offer PrEP, a drug that prevents HIV, to gay men
NHS England has made its final decision to not provide PrEP to gay and bisexual men. The national health provider has denied it is their responsibility to provide a drug that can help prevent the transmission of HIV. NHS England does fund other medication to protect sexual health, such as the oral contraceptive pill.
In March, NHS England said PrEP could not be considered for the specialized services annual prioritization process. It said ‘local authorities are responsible for HIV prevention services’, and not NHS England. They were forced to reconsider the decision after the shock of HIV and health charities and many politicians urged them to rethink their plans. The National AIDS Trust threatened legal action.
But in a statementissued today (31 May), NHS England made clear they would not offer the drug. The National AIDS Trust is considering further legal action
Deborah Gold, Chief Executive of NAT, said:‘NHS England is sitting on something that could be the beginning of the end for the HIV epidemic – if only it were made available. The refusal to commission it for all those at significant risk is astonishing. Seventeen people are being diagnosed with HIV every day. We are extremely disappointed and we will now be looking at our options, including further legal action.’
Matthew Hodson, the director of gay men’s health charity, GMFA, told Gay Star News: The NHS’s decision not to ever consider commissioning PrEP is both a shock and a disappointment. Although the commissioning landscape has become complicated there have been clear indications the NHS is able to commission preventative treatments.
‘Each year, thousands of gay men become infected with HIV and many of these infections could be prevented if PrEP was available. We now have all the tools we need to prevent new HIV infections but this requires commitment and investment. Without PrEP being added to our prevention armory, we are no closer to ending HIV. At a recent LGBT reception in Number 10, Prime Minister David Cameron made a strong commitment to do whatever he could to facilitate access to PrEP. In light of this, the NHS decision is a particularly crushing blow.’