PrEP needed today, not tomorrow

Published: 22 March 2016 Tags: PrEP By John Walding

We share the shock and strong disappointment of other HIV and LGBT Charities, Clinicians, HIV activists and many, many LGBT people that NHS England has ditched plans to make Truvada (a medication used in pre-exposure prophylaxis) available to people at higher risk of acquiring HIV.

This is a failure for those who are at risk of acquiring HIV.

The NHS England announcement effectively ditches the decision-making process on where to make PrEP available. This is of huge disappointment. NHS England press release is here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2016/03/prep/


Why the delay?

PrEP is needed today, not tomorrow. The US, Canada, France, Israel, Kenya have all made PrEP available. They have made PrEP available because it has been proven to work, and it is a really exciting prevention option which can make a real impact on tackling HIV. It has been proved to work in this country too.

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 PrEP offers 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: http://www.proud.mrc.ac.uk.

Colleagues at British HIV Association (BHIVA) have also expressed their deep concern regarding this decision;

"We are perplexed and deeply concerned by NHS England's decision not to take HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to stakeholder testing and consideration by the Clinical Priorities Advisory Group (CPAG). The decision comes as a complete shock, following 18 months of hard work with NHSE and a comprehensive, expert stakeholder group, which supports this roadmap to a commissioning decision. The BHIVA statement is here: http://www.bhiva.org/BHIVA-statement-on-the-NHSE-update-on-PreP.aspxThe NHSE's offer of £2 million over the next two years to run a number of early implementer test sites is not the answer and runs the real risk of a post code lottery. The Proud Study has already proved the effectiveness of Prep, so why the wait? Prep is needed today, not tomorrow.
We need urgent clarity from Department of Health, Public Health England or the NHS as to where responsibility sits with commissioning PrEP. The evidence shows that PrEP works and prevents HIV infection. Any further delay in commissioning PrEP will mean many more people infected with HIV."

Why today?

Prep needs to take its place alongside other forms of prevention and this needs to happen today, not tomorrow. Prep is one of the key HIV prevention options which have emerged; PrEP is an opportunity which should be grasped, not delayed. These sentiments are echoed by LGBT Foundation's Deputy Chief Executive, Rob Cookson;

"PrEP is an important part of the prevention toolbox. The community needs it today not tomorrow"

There is a strong community voice emerging. This voice is growing and you can join that voice. There are lots of quick ways to make you’re voice herd:

· Make NHS England aware of you’re concern by tweeting #WhereIsPrep @NHSEngland

· Sign the community statement requesting PrEP: http://www.prepaccess.org.uk/

· Show support and access more info on PrEP: http://prepster.info

· Attend our PrEP event with Prepster: https://www.facebook.com/events/1670725853194450/

.Please also sign a parliamentary petition, asking for PrEP to be made immediately available on the NHS. This petition already has over 10,000 signatures. You can sign the petition by clicking this link.