UK NHS Punts on PrEP: Advocates call for decision reversal and wide access to PrEP

March 22, 2016

Early yesterday, long-time activist and editor Gus Cairns wrote a piece in Huffington Post UK, “Where is PrEP?” highlighting the UK National Health Service’s silence around PrEP. In the piece he recapped an 18-month process by which he and myriad stakeholders worked towards a UK plan for PrEP, the impact of which could be significant in a county that is home to one of the largest HIV epidemics in western Europe. He encouraged fellow Britons to join him in a letter-writing campaign to the CEO of NHS England—#whereisprep?

Just hours later, NHS England released a statement on PrEP. Advocates were disappointed to learn that a PrEP policy would not be included in the NHS’ June decision-making process as was originally expected. The NHS statement noted that it was “not responsible for commissioning HIV prevention services” [like PrEP] but that it would work with other stakeholders on making PrEP available, including providing up to £2m over two years. These funds are expected to support PrEP for around 500 gay men at “early-implementer test sites”.

HIV groups in the UK quickly condemned the announcement and pushed for clarity on whose role it is (NHS, local authorities) to ensure that PrEP is widely available to all who need it, not a few hundred gay men.

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