Anti-HIV drug on the NHS: "This is another tool, condom-use alone is not working", says National AIDS Trust

New HIV drug: 'This is another tool, condom use alone is not working', says National AIDS Trust

A new drug may be funded to help with the prevention of HIV

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A High Court ruling allowing the National Health Service in England to fund an HIV-prevention drug has been praised by anti-AIDS campaigners.  

The High Court decision overturned health bosses, who had argued that it was the responsibility of local authorities, and not the NHS, to provide the preventative medication pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep).   

The drug costs £400 per person per month, and users take one each day in order to disable the virus and stop it multiplying. Critics claim its use can encourage a risky attitude towards practising safe-sex. 

NHS England have already announced they will appeal the High Court ruling, while the health services in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have yet to make a decision on funding. 

Kat Smithson, policy and campaigns manager at the National AIDS Trust, who challenged the original decision by the NHS not to fund treatment, dismisses claims that prescribing Prep will encourage irresponsible sexual behaviour. 

"What they've found is that there's no evidence to suggest [useof Prep] reduces condom use," she told Julia Hartley-Brewer.

"If someone’s taking the responsible decision to take Prep [it shows] they're engaging with a sexual-health consultant.

"This is another tool. Condom-use alone is not working, and this is more effective than condom use.

"It's a lot easier for a woman who's in a vulnerable situation to take a pill like this rather than negotiate condom use.

"There are all sorts of situations where negotiating condoms, or wearing condoms, is not 100% effective.

"No-one is suggesting providing this to every person, it's about those who are at risk."

Listen to the full interview to find out more