latest health care news

16.03.20

HIV drug PrEP to be available across England after £16m funding

Local authorities are set to receive £16m in government funding in 2020 to 2021 to deliver preventative HIV treatment drug PrEP to patients.

The Department of Health and Social Care funding will ensure anyone at a high risk of contracting HIV will receive PrEP from their local sexual health clinic to reduce the risk of getting the virus, as government aims to end HIV transmission by 2030.

When taken daily, PrEP has proven highly effective at preventing HIV transmission from sex or injection drug use. Studies have previously shown PrEP reduces the risk of contracting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily.

The treatment drug is currently available in England through the three-year PrEP impact trial, which has recruited over 20,000 participants.

People on the trial will be able to continue to use PrEP when the trial ends as part of the £16m funding.

In the UK in 2018, an estimated 103,800 people were living with HIV, with 7,500 unaware of their infection. Figures show that HIV transmissions in gay and bisexual men have fallen by 71.4% since 2014.

In January 2019, the government committed to reaching zero HIV transmissions by 2030. Achieving this ambitious goal depends on continuing prevention efforts such as making PrEP widely available to those who need it. Similarly, efforts including increased condom use, HIV testing in a wide range of settings and the availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART) are all contributing to a decrease in transmissions and key to achieving these targets.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I remember when HIV was a death sentence – and still today, it has a devastating impact on so many lives across the country.

“While it is encouraging to see HIV transmissions continue to fall across the UK, I am determined to do more, and end HIV transmission.

“So, we are rolling out PrEP and making it available across the country – with evidence showing it almost completely eradicates the chances of getting HIV. This will benefit tens of thousands of people’s lives, and drive us towards our ambition of zero HIV transmissions in this decade.”

Health Minister Jo Churchill added: “Getting tested for HIV has never been easier, and with powerful preventative measures such as PrEP available we are well on our way to achieving eliminating transmissions in England for good.

“HIV transmissions are down, but it is very important that we continue to protect those still at risk of contracting HIV.

“Rolling out PrEP will help prevent further transmissions. This is a crucial part of our work to tackle the condition and the stigma around it by making vital treatment more accessible and making national awareness better.”

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