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Tuesday, 07 June 2016

National Aids Trust in call over NHS funding for preventive HIV treatment

Written by The Press Association

A preventive HIV treatment is taking too long to be made available on the NHS, according to campaigners who are taking the matter to judicial review.

National Aids Trust chief executive Deborah Gold said the evidence of the effectiveness of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention has been known for more than five years.

In an article published by the British Medical Journal she attacked the lack of NHS funding and revealed the charity is taking the matter to court.

"We are still waiting for the NHS to embrace this potentially revolutionary intervention," she said.

When taken consistently, PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection in people who are at high risk by more than 90%.

In March, NHS England decided the treatment was a preventive service and was therefore not its responsibility. It has said local councils are in charge of funding preventive health services.

NHS England agreed to a re-evaluation after the National Aids Trust launched a legal challenge. This was rejected last month and NHS England stood firm on its decision not to commission the drug.

Ms Gold said: "Faced with this impasse, NAT has no choice but to take the matter before a court for judicial review. The public interest in resolving this is too great to ignore it."

Ms Gold said the delays make NHS England appear discriminatory, especially towards men who have sex with men, and also people from black African communities who are at high risk of HIV.

She said the health system is "failing to look at the bigger picture".

A spokesman for NHS England said: "We have listened carefully to stakeholders, and will continue to work with Public Health England and other partners on reducing HIV transmissions, but our external legal advice is clear that NHS England does not have the legal power to commission PrEP."

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