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PrEP will be available to thousands of NHS England patients in a matter of weeks

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The long-awaited summer trial will be rolled out at the start of August.

The UK government has announced plans to start prescribing HIV-prevention drugs to NHS England patients in a matter of weeks.

PrEP – Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis – is an anti-HIV medication taken by people who are HIV negative to lower their risk of contracting the infection.

Although the drug can cost up to £400 per patient a month, because multiple studies across the world have shown the medication to be an effective way of reducing the risk of acquiring HIV, it is widely deemed a cost-effective way of working towards eliminating the virus.

After losing a High Court battle opposing the trail back in November, more than 10,000 people will be able to access PrEP drug Truvada this summer.

The trial will start with people from ‘high-risk’ groups, which includes men who have sex with men.

“NHS England and Public Health England announced in December 2016 that up to £10 million is to be made available to run a three-year trial for pre-exposure prophylaxis to answer outstanding questions about future access and implementation,” Health Minister Steve Brine revealed to parliament.

“Work continues to ensure a robust trial starting as quickly as possible.

“Following the drug procurement, NHS England expects to be able to confirm the award of the final contract no later than the first week of August, meaning trial drugs could be available from early August, in readiness for the trial to begin once ethics approval is received and trial sites are prepared.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation recently added PrEP to its list of essential medicines.

Related: Life expectancy of people with HIV ‘near normal’ thanks to modern drugs

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