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‘Missed opportunity’ over HIV drug

‘Missed opportunity’ over HIV drug

22 March 2016

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NHS England has missed an opportunity to “launch a ground-breaking prevention method” that could halt the spread of HIV, it has been claimed.

The Local Government Association criticised the decision by NHS England not to commission pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

Instead NHS England said it was not responsible for commissioning HIV prevention, but was committed to working with local authorities and other health bodies as consideration is given to making PrEP available for people at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

NHS England has missed an opportunity to “launch a ground-breaking prevention method” that could halt the spread of HIV, it has been claimed.

The Local Government Association criticised the decision by NHS England not to commission pre exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV prevention.

Instead NHS England said it was not responsible for commissioning HIV prevention, but was committed to working with local authorities and other health bodies as consideration is given to making PrEP available for people at the highest risk of contracting the virus.

It said longer term data was needed “to be certain that PrEP can make a significant contribution to sexual health and well-being”.

The LGA’s wellbeing spokeswoman Izzi Seccombe said NHS England’s decision was “a missed opportunity to launch a ground-breaking prevention method that could halt the spread of HIV, potentially save lives and make a significant breakthrough in reducing the risk of HIV infection”.

She said councils had invested millions in sexual health services since they took over the responsibility for public health three years ago during the reorganisation of the NHS

“It's not right that councils should be made to fit the bill. In stating local authorities are responsible for commissioning HIV prevention, NHS England adopts what is, in our view, a wholly inadequate position.”

She added: “During the transition period of the NHS and Care Act 2010, NHS England sought to retain commissioning of HIV therapeutics, which the OPREP treatment clearly falls into. It is, and should remain, an NHS responsibility unless it is fully funded for local authorities to pass on.”

NHS England said it is providing up to £2 million over the next two years to run early implementer test sites to see how PrEP could be commissioned in the most cost effective and integrated way.

NHS England and Public Health England will invite expressions of interest for the test sites from local authority areas and aims to confirm successful bids by June.

The tests will run over the next two years to provide additional protection for 500 men at high risk of HIV infection.

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