Brighton and Hove to be among the first British cities to offer pioneering HIV drug

Posted On 03 Aug 2017 at 7:21 pm

Brighton and Hove is to be among the first British cities to offer a pioneering HIV drug treatment known as PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis).

The news was announced this afternoon (Thursday 3 August) by NHS England as it set out how it would run trials to protect people at high risk of HIV infection.

Access to the drug with NHS funding follows a court battle during which the Health Service argued that councils should pick up the bill.

The Court of Appeal upheld a High Court ruling saying that the NHS should pay.

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NHS England said: “From September, pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) will now be provided by the NHS through the initial three-year trial to an estimated 10,000 people, in what will be the largest single study of its type in the world.

“While HIV infection rates in England are falling due to increased prevention, diagnosis and treatment programmes, this major new NHS England funded intervention will now assess the full additional potential of PrEP by gathering clinical evidence on optimal targeting, uptake and implementation on a large scale.

“Sexual health clinics in London, Brighton, Manchester, Liverpool and Sheffield are expected to be among the first to start enrolling people in the impact trial from early September.

“More clinics will join in October with full implementation across England by April 2018 at the latest.

“As lessons are learned from the trial, this will inform follow-on routine commissioning subsequent to the three-year trial.

“To support the study, NHS England has now concluded a successful international competitive procurement to source the PrEP drugs for this trial.

“A contract signed this week has secured pricing consistent with the programme’s allocated budget of £10 million which also includes on-costs for local authorities and sexual health clinics involved in delivering and monitoring the trial intervention.

“Clinics will identify eligible participants who consent to the trial, including men, women, transgender people and individuals who have a partner whose HIV status is not known to be controlled by anti-retroviral treatment.

“People living and registered with a GP in England will also be able to enrol for potential participation at their local participating sexual health clinic.

“In addition to investing in the PrEP trial, NHS England already invests in a ‘treatment as prevention’ (known as TasP) policy to start HIV treatment earlier for people with diagnosed HIV to protect HIV-negative partners.

“This programme, combined with other prevention measures, has led to a drop of over 20 per cent in new HIV diagnoses in large London clinics.”

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “This major new intervention should complement and supercharge the wide-ranging and increasingly successful effort to prevent HIV.

“It’s another milestone in more than three decade’s worth of progress in tackling one of humanity’s major health challenges.”

National AIDS Trust (NAT) chief executive Deborah Gold said: “This is a pivotal moment in the fight against HIV.

“PrEP, if targeted properly at those in need and at risk, offers the possibility of transforming the English HIV epidemic.

“From September, people at high risk of HIV will have access via this NHS funded trial in England to an empowering new tool that is truly individually controlled and not subject to negotiation with a partner, leading to the improvement of many, many lives. We warmly welcome this announcement.”

Terrence Higgins Trust chief executive Ian Green said: “We’re pleased that NHS England has announced a start date for the much anticipated PrEP trial.

“This trial has been gaining momentum in England and is vital as we work towards ending HIV transmission.

“The priority must now be to make sure that the trial is rolled out speedily across the country and that no one at risk of HIV is left behind.

“Now that the PrEP trial drug has been procured, we’re well on the way to protecting over 10,000 people at risk of HIV.”

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