PrEP will be available on the National Health Service (NHS) from next month as part of a new trial.
The National AIDS Trust (NAT) won support from the High Court after it requested the use of PrEP be funded for use by the NHS.
The trial is expected to involve at least 10,000 people – made available through sexual health clinics. It will be offered to men, women, trans men and women, and those with HIV positive partners whose viral load is not known to be controlled by HIV medication.
PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.
On the announcement, Deborah Gold, chief executive at NAT said: “We already know that PrEP brings down rates of HIV infection, changing lives for those at risk and saving public money.
“We now need to work with NHS England, local authorities, and the sexual health sector to make sure the widest possible range of eligible people at high risk of HIV have access to the trial.
“We will continue to monitor the uptake of PrEP, aiming to learn as much as possible about how to get PrEP to all those who need it most.
“This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV. PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at high risk of HIV, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic.
“From September, people at high risk of HIV will have access via the NHS in England to an empowering new tool that is truly individual controlled and not subject to negotiation with a partner, leading to the improvement of many, many lives. We warmly welcome this announcement.”
Ian Green, Chief Executive of Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We’re pleased that NHS England has announced a start date for the much anticipated PrEP trial. This PrEP trial has been gaining momentum in England, and is vital as we work towards ending HIV transmissions across the UK.
“The priority must now be to make sure that the trial reaches everyone at risk of HIV, and that it is rolled out speedily across the whole country, by the end of this year at the very latest. Spring 2018 is not soon enough.
“Now that the PrEP trial drug has been procured, we’re well on the way to protecting over 10,000 people at risk of HIV. To make sure no-one at risk of HIV is left behind, it is crucial that at the end of this trial in three years time, a clear process for routinely commissioning PrEP on the NHS is agreed.”
The World Health Organisation recently added PrEP to its list of essential medicines.