Liberal Democrats commit to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) on NHS
Today is the last day of NHS England's Consultation into PrEP - please do complete the 5-minute consultation using Terrence Higgins Trust's toolkit
At the Liberal Democrats' Autumn Conference, party members have voted overwhelmingly to support making Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) available on the NHS to those at high risk of HIV infection. PrEP is a medication that can be taken before possible exposure to HIV. Studies including PRoUD and IPERGAY have demonstrated significant protective benefit from taking PrEP both routinely and "on demand". The World Health Organisation has recommended use of PrEP alongside condoms and other existing HIV prevention methods.
The Liberal Democrats in Wales and Scotland have already voted to support PrEP through their delegated NHS budgets. This motion commits the Liberal Democrats in England, including those parts with healthcare powers devolved to City Regions. The motion was proposed by HIV campaigner Hywel ap Daffyd, and summated by Paul Childs, the Lib Dem candidate for Liverpool Riverside at the last General Election, who disclosed his HIV status in response to claims from UKIP over health tourism for HIV treatment.
Norman Lamb MP, Lib Dem health spokesperson, said " It beggars belief that there is a drug which has been shown to be effective in preventing infection with the virus, but which has still not been made available on the NHS. We need to stop brushing the issue under the carpet and start to take HIV prevention seriously."
Cllr Jane Brophy, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Greater Manchester, added "This is an important step to protect residents in Greater Manchester, particularly those in the BME and LGBT+ communities. With the combined health and social care budget, we have the opportunity to both save money and improve peoples' lives by preventing new HIV transmissions."
Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems, said "NHS England are holding a public consultation on the provision of PrEP, and we encourage people to respond using the guidance provided by the Terrance Higgins Trust and National AIDS Alliance."
Text of motion as passed
- There are currently over 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK alone, and in 2014 there were 6,151 new HIV diagnoses in 2014, with over 85,000 people accessing HIV care.
- That Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (known as PrEP) is the use of a prescription Anti HIV drug called Truvada that prevent an individual from contracting HIV; increased use of PrEP has the potential to reduce infection rates thus not only saving lives but also money.
- That despite its proven efficacy and potential for long term financial health care savings, and the High Court's ruling that it is responsible for its introduction, the NHS has yet to approve its use; it is currently only available in the UK through a private prescription that costs approximately £400 for a month's supply.
- That if NHS England believes that the cost is a central barrier to its introduction, then it should push for access to a generic version of PrEP.
- That modelling research funded by Public Health England published in January 2016 suggests that adoption of PrEP could prevent around 7,400 new infections in the UK by 2020.
- The October 2014 interim analysis of the PROUD study data showing that PrEP is 86% effective against HIV for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) at high risk of infection.
- That the same levels of protection are shown by the IPERGAY, a French and Canadian Study into PrEP.
- That the study conducted by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco showed no new infections.
- That PrEP does not provide protection against other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and is intended as a supplement to the existing safer sex strategy; the PROUD study initiated full STI screening before the initial and each subsequent prescription and no increase in STI infection was found.
- The decision of the United States of America's Centre for Disease Control to approve Truvada as PrEP in 2014; PrEP is also available in France, Canada, Israel, Kenya and will soon be prescribed in Australia.
- That in 2014 the World Health Organisation issued guidelines strongly recommending men who have sex with men consider taking antiretroviral medicines as an additional method of preventing HIV infection.
- That within the Liberal Democrats, Norman Lamb MP, Health Spokesperson, recently called for PrEP to be made available on the NHS immediately; and both the Scottish and Welsh state parties and the North West of England region have passed motions that called for PrEP to be made available to those at high risk of contracting HIV.
Conference reaffirms the Liberal Democrat commitment to:
- Champion the freedom, dignity and wellbeing of individuals.
- Fight disease wherever it may occur.
Conference calls for:
- Liberal Democrats in Parliament to continue their work for NHS adoption of PrEP for those people at high risk of HIV Infection, BAME communities and women.
- The Government to use all available methods to highlight PrEP to those most at risk from HIV; to fast track PrEP availability on the NHS for those at most risk from HIV and to provide targeted public education resources and campaigns about the importance of effective condom use as well as other preventative methods as part of any programme that makes PrEP available on the NHS.
- Liberal Democrats in national Parliaments and devolved authorities to use powers at their disposal to encourage availability of PrEP.