PrEP to be fully rolled out in England in the coming months

The announcement after years of campaigning by activists.

The Department of Health will fully fund a roll out of anti-retroviral drug Pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly referred to as PrEP, in England, reports Buzzfeed.

The drug, if taken consistently by HIV-negative people, can help to dramatically reduce the risk of acquiring the virus.

PrEP will become publicly available for those most at risk of catching HIV before the end of the year. It will replace the current Impact trail, which provided the drug to 20,000 people who were at risk.

The rollout will be funded by new money from central government, given to local government, for sexual health clinics, who will be able to administer the drug.

The news was welcomed by campaigners, with Will Nutland, a co-founder of PrEPster, saying: “We applaud that a decision has finally been made about funding PrEP in England.

“It is right that cash-strapped local authorities that are struggling to maintain levels of services in many areas, including public health, should be finally receiving additional funding to provide their component of a PrEP service.”

Another co-founder, Marc Thompson, said: “In addition, we support calls for robust and proper investment in our creaking sexual health services, including proper investment in clinical services, peer services, and health promotion programmes.”

Phil Samba, the Strategic Lead for Queer Men of Colour, also joined calls for further awareness, saying: “Investment must be increased to ensure that those who most need PrEP know about it, can access it, and – where appropriate – are supported in using it.”

The news comes as new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men fell. It was announced earlier this year, that new infections among those communities had fallen by 71% since 2012.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the UK is on track to meet its goal of ending HIV transmission by 2030, saying he “feel[s] very strongly” about the cause and that the new figures are “encouraging”.

The decrease in new transmissions has been attributed to the success of PrEP.

Last year, the UK government announced its plans to end new HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030. The announcement came after the UK met its UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets before the deadline, which is this year.

Making the announcement at the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), Evening Standard and Independent’s AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London, Hancock said: “Today we’re setting a new goal: eradicating HIV transmission in England by 2030. No new infections within the next decade. Becoming one of the first countries to reach the UN zero infections target by 2030.”

Related: Second person in the world to be ‘cured’ of HIV reveals identity

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