Councils around England will now be able to offer uncapped access to PrEP, the revolutionary HIV prevention medication for those who need it.
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 but was slashed to £11.2 million, which a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said, that the cut accounted “for the fact that the rollout of the routine commissioning of PrEP was paused during the pandemic.”
The rollout was delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but roll out of pre-exposure prophylaxis is now expected to begin from 1 October, meaning that gay, bi, and men who have sex with men, will be able to access PrEP via their local sexual health services for free.
PrEP advocate and campaigner Greg Owen took to social media to explain the news.
“There should now be nothing standing in the way of this important HIV transmission prevention drug”
Speaking about the rollout, Richard Angell, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust, said, “With three working days before the start of October – the delayed but finally promised launch of uncapped PrEP access in England – the Health Department has finally allocated funds to local government to start the rollout. There should now be nothing standing in the way of this important HIV transmission prevention drug finally becoming a reality in England. This follows years of painstaking battling and further delays due to Covid-19.
“We now need to see PrEP made rapidly available right across the country – the wait has been too long. We know hard working local officials and many clinics put the wheels in motion for a start of October launch to make the most of this game-changer for HIV prevention – this allocation of funds should mean people are ready to go.
“More work is needed to ensure all groups affected by HIV know about PrEP and how to access it, but this is undoubtedly an important step forward as we work towards ending HIV transmissions in England by 2030.”
What is PrEP?
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, it is a drug treatment protocol using a prescription medicine called Truvada and has been shown in trials to be highly effective in preventing HIV in gay and bisexual men, when taken daily and used in combination with other infection prevention measures.
Truvada contains two medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine) and is already routinely used in combination with other medicines to treat existing HIV infection.