Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a drug which if taken regularly can help to prevent an HIV-negative person acquiring HIV if they have exposure to the virus. A recent trial in 13 sexual health clinics in the UK showed that the drug was very effective, and has cut new infections in high risk gay men by 86%.
The drug used in the trial is called Truvada and is already available in the USA. The NHS is currently considering whether it can offer it for free to people who are at high risk of contracting HIV. They expect to make a decision early next year. The long term savings of not having to treat HIV are expected to be an important part of the decision.
Truvada would cost around £4,300 per patient per year. However it could save the NHS £500 million over 80 years with the savings of treating someone who is HIV positive. It is proposed that it would be available to 7,000 high risk MSM. The decision will be made by NHS England as it is a specialist HIV drug, not NICE (National Institute of Health and Care Excellence).
There were some concerns before the trial started that other STIs would rise as people thought that PrEP would protect them, there was no need to use a condom. The trial found that the had been no significant rise of other STIs, as people on PrEP were not increasing their risk.
Dr Michael Brady, Medical Director of The Terrence Higgins Trust and HIV Adviser to Better2Know said: “Like HIV treatment, the history of HIV prevention has evolved over time. A combination approach to HIV prevention is possible, and we need access to PrEP now.”
The only way to know your HIV Status is to get tested. Better2Know can help arrange this for you today.