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Lib Dems: Make Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention available on the NHS

May 10, 2017 12:55 PM

The Liberal Democrats have announced they would ensure access to the HIV prevention drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) on the NHS for people in high-risk groups.

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a once-a-day pill that reduces the risk of HIV infection by 86%.

Despite its proven efficacy and potential to deliver long-term savings, the NHS has yet to approve its use, and it is currently only available in the UK through a private prescription that costs approximately £400 for a month's supply.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said:

"PrEP is a vital weapon in the fight against HIV, and it's high time that it was made routinely available to those who are at risk of infection.

"The Liberal Democrats in Parliament have led calls for PrEP to be made available to all high-risk groups.

"We know that PrEP is highly effective in reducing transmission of the virus. Prevention is always better than treatment, so it makes absolutely no sense to delay roll-out of the drug any longer."

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said:

"Offering PrEP on the NHS is the smart thing to do and the right thing to do, the needs of the communities this affects have been ignored for too long.

"The Liberal Democrats will act quickly to fix this injustice."

PrEP user and campaigner Nick Perry said:

"It's absolutely right for the Liberal Democrats to press the NHS to get on with commissioning a wholly effective and proven HIV prevention tool - PrEP - across the UK.

"Prevention isn't just better than cure clinically - trials and modelling have shown it to be highly cost- effective too.

"Each day 16 more people in the UK are diagnosed HIV positive.

"The end of new HIV infections is in our grasp, and the NHS needs to make it happen."


Notes to Editors

In 2015, an estimated 101,200 people were living with HIV in the UK and 594 people with HIV. In the same year there were 6,095 new HIV diagnoses. Around 47,000 gay or bisexual men and around 49,500 heterosexuals were estimated to be living with HIV in the UK by the end of 2015. In the heterosexual population of those living with HIV, 58% are from black African communities.

PrEP is endorsed by the World Health Organisation and widely available in other countries, including Australia, France, Canada, Israel, Kenya and USA.

PrEP is endorsed by the World Health Organisation[i] and widely available in other countries, including Australia, France, Canada, Israel, Kenya and USA.

This policy would save money. To treat someone who has HIV/AIDS is considerably more expensive than PrEP as a preventative method would be. At present, a year's supply officially costs £4330 per person, although the NHS obtains a discount and may pay around £3000 per year. A lifetime of HIV treatment costs up to £360,000[v].

[v] Medical Research Council