Following the High Court ruling insisting the NHS could provide PrEP to prevent HIV, NHS England changed their statements on the HIV prevention method
After NHS England received a High Court order saying they could provide PrEP to those at risk of contracting HIV (which includes men who have sex with men), the NHS have altered their statements on PrEP, causing concern amongst proponents of PrEP who see this as an attempt to negatively influence opinions around those who employ the HIV prevention method.
“PrEP is a way of using anti-retroviral drugs – usually used for treating people with diagnosed HIV – to stop viral transmission,” the original NHS statement read. “Evidence of effectiveness is strongest for men who do not use condoms in sex with multiple male partners.”
The revised statement, issued 3 August 2016, says: “PrEP is a measure to prevent HIV transmission, particularly for men who have high risk condomless sex with multiple male partners.”
The Chief Executive of HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, Ian Green, wrote: “I am writing to express my shock and concern over the tone, language, and content of the NHS statement on PrEP […] as well as the factual inaccuracies that it contained.”
“The efficacy of PrEP is not related to gender, sexual orientation, condom use or number of sexual partners.
“Singling out gay men who do not use condoms is intentionally provocative, homophobic, offensive and inaccurate. This along with the statement that ‘given the ruling NHS England cannot now confirm funding for those treatments and services in levels three and four’ is disgraceful and irresponsible.
“I need to remind you that the only reason CPAG was not able to prioritise new drugs and therapies at their last meeting was due to the arbitrary decision to stop the approval process for PrEP.”
— TerrenceHigginsTrust (@THTorguk) August 8, 2016
Divide And Conquer
“The only purpose of the above statement is to pit one patient group against another. The results can been seen in the sensationalist, moralistic headlines and homophobic statements being made in the UK press.
“It is unacceptable for the National Health Service to misrepresent the facts and to portray gay men in this judgemental way.
“PrEP is not a moral issue. PrEP is a treatment which can stop a population with ongoing major health inequalities from contracting a life threatening disease with lifetime treatment costs of up to £380,000.
“That is all and it should be treated as such. I strongly urge you as Chief Executive of NHS England to authorise this statement to be withdrawn and a new release issued which deals with the topic in an appropriate manner.”
The NHS have yet to respond to Ian Green, but have advised that they will in due course.
Looking at NHS England’s resistance to publicly funding the drug which is highly successful at preventing the spread of HIV, we can ascertain the kind of tactics that those who are opposed to PrEP access in Ireland might employ as interested bodies make the case for and against the drug here.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.