Dear Baroness Joyce Gould, Peter Kyle MP, Simon Kirby MP, Caroline Lucas MP, and Nick Gibb MP,
I am writing this open letter in my capacity as Chief Executive of The Sussex Beacon.
It was with great concern that I read about NHS England’s short sighted announcement regarding the provision of HIV Pre Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drugs on the NHS in England.
The current proposal is to provide £2million of funding over two years for gay men most at risk of acquiring HIV. This would equate to preventative treatment for approximately 500 people. It is estimated that over 5000 gay men will become infected with HIV over the next two years. Many of these infections would be prevented if PrEP were widely available.
As you will be aware PrEP could play a key part in the reduction of HIV transmission in England, it therefore seems inconceivable that not prescribing this drug to men most at risk of contracting HIV is even being considered.
Currently the only way to combat the HIV epidemic in the UK is through regular testing and prevention of transmission. PrEP offers a new alternative in HIV prevention and therefore I see no justification for this decision.
Clinical trials and 18 months of work have clearly demonstrated the effectiveness and cost benefits of this HIV prevention drug, proven to be successful in stopping HIV transmission in almost every case if taken as advised.
In the US, Canada, France, Israel and Kenya PrEP is widely available, the UK is world renowned for its excellent HIV treatment and prevention services, a fact we should be proud of.
Given the potential benefits of making this drug more widely available, I ask you to use your influence to lobby against this decision, driven purely by short term financial savings and at the cost of long term public health. A clear long term strategy to tackle HIV transmission, which includes funding for access to PrEP, is needed as a matter of urgency.
The Sussex Beacon