Following years of campaigning, HIV prevention pill PrEP will finally be available as part of a nationwide rollout offering uncapped access to the game-changing drug in England.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis, more commonly referred to as PrEP, is an anti-retroviral drug taken by HIV-negative people which, if used consistently, can help to dramatically reduce the risk of acquiring the virus.
PrEP was previously available in England as part of the Impact trial, but now the Government has given local councils funding to uncap its availability and make it more widely accessible.
This wider rollout was previously delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, but is now expected to begin on 1 October.
“With three working days before the start of October – the delayed but finally promised launch of uncapped PrEP access in England – the Health Department has finally allocated funds to local government to start the roll out,” said Richard Angell, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust.
“There should now be nothing standing in the way of this important HIV transmission prevention drug finally becoming a reality in England. This follows years of painstaking battling and further delays due to COVID-19.
“We now need to see PrEP made rapidly available right across the country – the wait has been too long. We know hard working local officials and many clinics put the wheels in motion for a start of October launch to make the most of this game-changer for HIV prevention – this allocation of funds should mean people are ready to go.
“More work is needed to ensure all groups affected by HIV know about PrEP and how to access it, but this is undoubtedly an important step forward as we work towards ending HIV transmissions in England by 2030.”
The UK government announced its plans to end new HIV transmissions in the UK by 2030 last year. The announcement came after the UK met its UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets before the deadline, which was originally expected to be this year.
At the Elton John AIDS Foundation (EJAF), Evening Standard and Independent’s AIDSfree Cities Global Forum in London, Health Secretary Matt 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.”