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UK: PrEP study to be fast-tracked following ‘significant progress’

October 16, 2014
Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs are a HIV prevention method

Pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs are a HIV prevention method (Getty)

A two-year study into whether PrEP should be routinely made available on the NHS for gay and bisexual men is being fast-tracked.

The steering committee of the PROUD study announced on Thursday that interim analysis has shown that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is highly protective against HIV for gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) at high risk of infection.

The committee said that participants currently on the deferred arm of the study, who have not yet started PrEP, will be offered the opportunity to begin PrEP ahead of schedule.

Dr Adrian Palfreeman, Vice Chair of the British HIV Association, said: “We welcome the news that we have made significant progress in efforts to prevent HIV in men who have sex with men, where ongoing transmission in the UK remains unacceptably high, and look forward to seeing the results when they are available.

“BHIVA, along with other key stakeholders, are working with NHS England to devise a policy to consider the future availability of pre-exposure prophylaxis, alongside existing measures to prevent infection, within the NHS in the future”

PrEP is available on some healthcare schemes in the US, but in the UK, PrEP is currently still in its experimental trial period, but some campaigners are already calling for it to be made available on the NHS.

In July, the World Health Organisation stated gay men should consider using PrEP as an additional method of preventing HIV infection alongside the use of condoms.

The announcement generated a mixed response. British journalist Patrick McAleenan feared such a sweeping statement could stigmatise gay men and undermine condom use.

However, other health campaigners welcomed the WHO’s intervention, viewing it as a watershed moment in the debate on HIV prevention.

Last month, San Francisco politician Scott Wiener became one of the first US politicians to confirm his use of Truvada as PrEP to reduce his risk of HIV infection.

He told PinkNews: “I thought long and hard about whether to disclose my use of PrEP and ultimately decided I had a responsibility to be public in order to move the conversation forward.” 

Currently PrEP is only available in England through the PROUD study.

More: Bisexual men, England, gay and bisexual men, gay men, HIV, hiv infection, hiv testing, hiv transmission, HIV-prevention, men who have sex with men, MSM, national aids trust, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP, Public Health England, Terrence Higgins Trust

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