The Scottish Medicines Consortium today announced that PrEP, the HIV prevention drug, will be made available on the NHS in Scotland.
The drug has been deemed a cost effective way to prevent the transmission of HIV, with Scotland becoming the first country in the UK to offer it to NHS patients.
PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.
“We applaud the SMC for taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland,” the PrEP4Scotland Coalition said in a statement.
“PrEP provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.”
They added: “All NHS Boards in Scotland need to now follow the SMC’s advice and ensure they’re making PrEP available to those who need it, so that no-one at risk is left behind.”
Robert McKay, National Director for Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic. PrEP can now be used as a vital tool – alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment – to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.
“Not only will this make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs.”
The PrEP treatment that will be available to Scottish NHS patients will be Truvada.
Multiple studies across the world have shown the medication to be an effective way of reducing the risk of contracting HIV.
After losing a high-profile court battle last year, NHS England are expected to offer patients a trial of the drug in the coming months.