The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has slashed the budget earmarked for the HIV Prevention Pill, PrEP even before the roll out across England begins.
It was announced earlier this year that the DHSC had set aside a budget for local authorities in England to deliver PrEP to those “who need it most”.
The initial budget was set at £16 million.
The rollout has been set back, largely by Coronavirus, and the budget has now been slashed by £5 million to £11 million.
Terrence Higgins Trust, National AIDS Trust and PrEPster released a joint statement outlining that sexual health services are already overstretched calling the budget cut “hugely concerning” and accused the Government of “rolling back” on what was promised
“We welcome the Department of Health’s work to begin the roll-out of uncapped access to PrEP in England but this significant cut to the PrEP budget for local authorities is hugely concerning.
“Sexual health services are already on their knees and slashing the budget by almost a third will undoubtedly limit local authorities’ ability to deliver PrEP to those who need it. The Health Secretary promised proper PrEP access as part of the commitment to end HIV transmissions within the next decade but is now rolling back on what was promised.
“England’s sexual health services are already over stretched and under funded, which is why proper resourcing for the delivery of PrEP is crucial to its success. While those currently accessing PrEP are unlikely to be affected the roll out is supposed to ensure significantly more people can benefit from it for HIV prevention over the coming months. This cut to the first year’s budget before that’s even started means PrEP will not be fully utilised.
“PrEP is highly effective at stopping HIV and extremely cost-effective when compared with a lifetime of HIV treatment. It’s disappointing that we are once again fighting for its potential to be maximised in England.’
“Funding has been adjusted”
A spokesperson for the DHSC told THEGAYUK
“Now we are past the peak of the pandemic, the NHS and local government are re-opening services and we are pleased to be rolling out PrEP across the country as part of our work to tackle HIV and the stigma around it.
“This will benefit tens of thousands of people and take us closer to our ambition of zero HIV transmissions by 2030.
“In light of covid-19 pressures during the first quarter of the year, PrEP was not immediately available for individuals via routine commissioning.
“The modest change in allocated funding accounts for the fact that the rollout of the routine commissioning of PrEP was paused during the pandemic.”
This story was updated to reflect a quote from the DHSC.