Anyone in the UK who feels that they are at risk of HIV infection will be able to access the preventative pill on the NHS if either the Labour Party or Liberal Democrats come to power, the parties have confirmed.
Whilst PrEP, in form of generic TDF/FTC (often known by the original brand name, Truvada) is available freely on the NHS in Scotland and Wales access in England is far more complicated.
Access in England is currently via the IMPACT trial which started recruiting in October 2017. Places on the trial are restricted and criticism has been levelled at the government for the trial’s inflexible and somewhat arbitrary recruitment limits, others have accused the government of using the trial as a stalling method to delay having to fully roll-out PrEP. The trial is due to end in 2020 but no clear path has been set for either roll-out or continued support for those taking PrEP via the trial.
It is known that 15 people have tested HIV positive whilst waiting for a place on the IMPACT trial, with anecdotal evidence that this number may be far higher still.
Luciana Berger, Liberal Democrat spokesperson, said: “Despite the clear evidence that PrEP is an effective way to prevent HIV, the Conservatives have continually buried their heads in the sand. For years the Liberal Democrats have been calling on the Conservatives to extend PrEP to everyone who needs it in England. But the Tories do not appear to care. They haven’t even bothered to mention PrEP or HIV in their manifesto.”
Sharon Hodgson, Labour’s shadow minister for public health, said:
“No one should be turned away from this revolutionary drug in the fight against HIV.
“With access to PrEP, HIV is an entirely avoidable infection that can be prevented.
“It is vital that people have control over their sexual health, which is why Labour will roll out PrEP treatment across England. We will also increase the public health grants to local authorities by £1billion per year, ensuring sexual health treatment is available to everyone who needs it.”
The general election on December 12th 2019 will see voters go to the polls with the two hottest issues being Brexit and the NHS itself.
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