The future of HIV prevention drug PrEP in the UK faces uncertainty as the NHS announced today that an expansion of a trial of the drug is facing delays.
Currently, 13,000 participants are taking PrEP as part of a trial to test the cost-effectiveness of the drug on the NHS. The health service planned on doubling the number of participants on the programme in a bid to include more women on the trial. However, this expansion is being postponed.
Will Nutland, one of the co-founders of UK-based organisation Prepster spoke about the importance of PrEP with regards to HIV prevention:
“People are being refused access to PrEP and are getting HIV unnecessarily because many trial sites are full. We have one of the most effective tools ever developed to prevent HIV – and yet access to it is being denied.”
“Dangling promises of access to PrEP, and then withdrawing them is unacceptable – especially to the thousands of people who want to take control of their health by accessing this technology.”
Debbie Laycock, the Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Terrence Higgins Trust called the delays “unacceptable”:
“Whilst we welcome the news that the PrEP Trial Board has approved in principle a proposed increase in places, we remain deeply frustrated that there is no definitive timescale as to when these additional places will be released, and in fact no commitment that these places will indeed be made available across the country.”
“No one at risk of HIV should be denied access to PrEP.”
In Ireland, new HIV diagnoses remain at an all-time high. ACT UP Dublin have called for the implementation of a large-scale, accessible national PrEP programme, as well as other means for preventing HIV including increased testing rates and effective support for people living with HIV.
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