Opinion: Government failing people at risk of HIV

Recent reports would suggest that legislative measures to tackle the issue of HIV have been largely successful in England. But there is a major issue that must be addressed – PrEP.

 

PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) is a pill that can protect users from HIV. If used regularly and alongside other forms of contraception, it can be extremely beneficial to users and can allow a positive and negative partner to engage safely in sexual relations, without fear of contracting HIV.

 

PrEP is currently available through NHS Scotland. NHS Wales have initiated a three-year trial called ‘PrEPARED’ and Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland are offering the drug through a project that will last two years – with no cap on numbers. What about England? The drug is only available at selected clinics and is limited to 13,000 ‘high risk’ individuals in England.

 

Currently a postcode lottery and poverty are limiting access, these factors should not determine whether a person can be effectively protected against HIV. It is also cost effective to offer this preventive medication to all requiring it, as it is far cheaper to offer a preventive pill than treat an individual for a lifetime if the individual contracts HIV/AIDS.

 

‘we have the resources to minimise the spread of this devastating disease’ – Thomas Howard, Editor at TPN

 

HIV/AIDS is a disease that is life-changing and life-threatening, and we have the resources to minimise the spread of this devastating disease – it’s a shame that this drug is not widely available through NHS England.

 

‘We can bring an end to HIV’ – Prince Harry

 

It was moving to hear Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Member of Parliament, stand and announce that he was HIV positive during a debate in the House of Commons. Prince Harry, an advocate for awareness, has also claimed that ‘[w]e can bring an end to HIV’. It seems that the support is there, but we require immediate action from our Government – implementing a universal rollout of PrEP will help to eliminate HIV in the United Kingdom.

 

In response to these concerns I have launched an online petition calling on Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, to ‘Give us PrEP in England’ – please click here to sign the petition.

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