Scotland leads the way with PrEP

Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV has been approved in Scotland. Despite strong evidence that PrEP can reduce HIV transmission in high-risk men and women the preventative treatment is not currently available in the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) approved emtricitabine /tenofovir disoproxil (Truvada), the drug combination used for PrEP, in combination with safer sex practices for pre-exposure prophylaxis to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV-1 infection in adults at high risk. It says that in the pivotal studies conducted in men who have sex with men and heterosexual couples, one of whom was HIV negative, there were statistically significant relative reductions in incidence of HIV for emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil compared with placebo.

Robert McKay, the national director for the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, says: ‘Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic.’ But he warned of the postcode lottery around access to the drugs.

‘There is still a long way to go before everyone at risk in the UK has access to PrEP.’

‘NHS Wales makes its decision on PrEP later this month, and we hope they will follow Scotland’s leadership in preventing HIV.’

‘Meanwhile a long-awaited PrEP trial from NHS England and Public Health England is still yet to materialise. We urgently need answers on when exactly the trial will begin and who will have access to it, and ultimately, assurance that the NHS will retain responsibility for PrEP in England when the trial comes to an end.

‘We must not let PrEP become a postcode lottery – it should be available to all those at risk, regardless of where they live in the UK,’ he says.

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