PrEP Finally Available In England

The UK Department of Health has confirmed PrEP, a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV, will be available in England from April, the BBC reports.

Scotland and Wales had already made PrEP available to people at risk of contracting the virus.

The cost of PrEP will be covered by the National Health Service (NHS) with the Health Secretary estimating new HIV infections will be eliminated within 10 years.

The Terrence Higgins Trust, a charity that supports those living with HIV, estimates that about 7 percent of the roughly 103,800 people living with the virus in the UK do not know they are HIV positive.

Terrance Higgins Trust Chief Executive Ian Green said the provision of PrEP by the NHS is a “game-changer” for HIV prevention.

But he said more work needed to be done to ensure the benefits of PrEP were made clear to groups other than gay and bisexual men, such as women, trans people and BAME communities.

Sir Elton John, whose foundation supports HIV prevention and treatment, welcomed the government’s decision.

“Taking PrEP prevents HIV from being passed on, which is truly incredible,” he told the Sunday Times.

“It is the right decision for the UK government to roll this out more widely to minimise the spread of this disease so more people are protected – which is critical in fighting any epidemic,” Sir Elton said.

There are some critics who say funding PrEP will lead to men choosing not to wear condoms and sending incidences of STIs like syphilis and gonorrhoea in the UK even higher.

In 2018, new HIV diagnoses in the UK fell to their lowest level since 2000 – 4,484 people – due to the success of preventative measures, Public Health England said.

The decline has been attributed to a mix of prevention methods, such as testing, condom provision, and the wider use of PrEP.

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