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Manchester Mayor says HIV-preventing drugs should be available on NHS

Nick Duffy November 30, 2015

The Mayor of Greater Manchester has called for HIV-preventing PrEP drugs to be available to gay and bisexual men on the NHS.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis drug Truvada can drastically reduce people’s chances of getting HIV if taken daily. The drug is routinely available to at-risk men in the US, but the NHS is yet to roll out the drug in the UK following a successful trial.

Speaking ahead of World AIDS Day, Greater Manchester’s interim Mayor Tony Lloyd backed calls for the drug to be made available on the NHS.

Mr Lloyd, who is also the city’s Police and Crime Commissioner and is a former Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, said: “PrEP is a relatively new treatment but it is a major weapon in the fight to eradicate HIV.

“Clinical trials both here in the UK and abroad have shown that its intelligent use leads to a dramatic reduction in new HIV infections. More than that – it stops HIV in its tracks.

“The reality is that by combining the smart use of PrEP, regular testing of those most at risk of HIV, early diagnosis and treatment of HIV, and condom use, an AIDS-free world could become a reality within the next decade.

“Who would have thought, even 10 years ago, we could eradicate HIV. We know that PrEP works – the evidence is clear – and on the eve of World AIDS Day it would be a fitting time for the government to announce that it will be available on the NHS.

“At the very least interim arrangements should be put in place now to provide PrEP to those at the highest risk of acquiring HIV.”

Rob Cookson, Deputy Chief Executive of the city’s LGBT Foundation, said: “The evidence is clear – when taken as recommended, PrEP prevents the transmission of HIV. PrEP is an important new addition to existing prevention options, including condom usage and regular testing.

“PrEP works, is urgently needed and the NHS must make it available without delay.

“This is now the time for us to use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent new HIV infections. By working together, we have the potential to finally eradicate HIV.”

The Mayor, who backed a petition on the issue, also warned about cuts to HIV services.

He said: “It simply does not make sense that these budgets are being slashed. It puts local authorities in an impossible position, means more people will be at risk of sexually-transmitted infections, which in turn places more demand on our already-stretched health service.

“The government needs to listen to professionals and realise that these cuts are a false economy.”

More: AIDS, England, Gay, HIV, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, PrEP, Truvada

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