Londoners are being urged to have their say on HIV prevention drugs, known as PrEP, which can be prescribed to people at greatest risk of contracting HIV.
London Councils, which represents the 32 boroughs and the City of London, is encouraging all Londoners to share their views on PrEP and wider HIV prevention with NHS England by responding to its online consultation.
Cllr Teresa O’Neill OBE, London Councils’ Executive member for health, said:
“HIV is a big issue for London as nearly half of all people living with HIV in the UK live in the capital and 57 per cent of new HIV diagnoses are in London too. This means that it is important that Londoners join us in telling NHS England what they think of PrEP.
“It is crucial to use all available methods, including PrEP, to protect people at risk of contracting HIV and reduce rates of infection, particularly as the long term impact and cost of living with HIV are significantly greater than prevention.
“We are also calling for the 356 people participating in the PROUD study on the effectiveness of PrEP, which showed that in 86 per cent of cases the drug can prevent HIV, to continue receiving the drug between the study ending in September and the NHS England pilot due to start in January.
“We are concerned that NHS England, by arguing it is not responsible for funding PrEP, is trying to shift costs to local authorities. The judicial review has confirmed that NHS England should be responsible for funding PrEP, as we have always said.”
NHS England announced earlier this year that it does not have the power to commission PrEP but a judicial review brought by the National Aids Trust determined that NHS England could commission PREP. NHS England is appealing this ruling but is going ahead with its public consultation on the drug at the same time.
Consultation responses will be used to shape the approach taken by NHS England if it commissions PrEP in the future.
NHS England’s public consultation on PrEP closes on Friday 23 September 2016.
For more information on PrEP, visit the London Councils website.
Notes to editors:
- PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis) is the use of an anti-retroviral drug (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate - brand name Truvada) which may be prescribed to HIV negative people who are at high risk of contracting HIV. Several trials have shown that using PrEP can prevent people from becoming infected with HIV.
- It is estimated that 2,800 people acquired HIV in 2014, which means that around eight people contracted HIV each day. Each individual represents a potential treatment cost of £360,000 to the NHS which amounts to an additional cost of £2.88 million every day for that one year alone. These costs are huge compared to the costs of giving someone PrEP, which is between £8,000 and £10,000 for a limited period of time.
- London Councils is also calling for the group of 356 people, of whom 246 are Londoners, who currently have access to PrEP because they are participants in the PROUD academic study to continue receiving the drug. NHS England implied its commitment to this course of action in March 2016. As things stand, these people, who are at very high risk of getting HIV, will no longer receive PrEP when the study concludes in September 2016. They are likely to be signed up to a new pilot study in the new year but there is the possibility they will stop receiving PrEP between these dates.