Former health minister Norman Lamb: HIV-preventing drugs must be made available on NHS
Former Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb 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 on World AIDS Day, Lib Dem MP and health spokesperson Norman Lamb became the latest figure to call for PrEP to be fast-tracked to high-risk groups including gay and bisexual men.
Citing statistics which show the number of HIV transmissions have reached a record high among men who have sex with men, Mr Lamb called for urgent action.
Mr Lamb: “The fact that more than 6,000 more people became infected with HIV in Britain in 2013 shows that our efforts to combat the virus are clearly not working.
“It beggars belief that there is a drug which has been shown to be effective in preventing infection with the virus, but which has still not been made available on the NHS. We need to stop brushing the issue under the carpet and start to take HIV prevention seriously.
“I am urging the NHS to take urgent action to halt the spread of HIV by making PrEP available to people considered to be at high risk of catching the virus, without further delay.
“This could have an enormous impact on the lives of countless numbers of people in high-risk groups, and will turn out far cheaper than our current strategy of treating people once they become infected – which is wasteful both in terms of NHS resources and its human cost.”
LGBT+ Lib Dems chair Dave Page added: “On World AIDS Day we look forward to Getting to Zero – including zero new infections.
“PrEP is a valuable weapon in that fight. It has the power to be as revolutionary – and as controversial – as the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s, and we must avoid knee-jerk reactions of social conservatives who would permit further harm in the name of moral outrage.”
Liberal Democrat Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, who made history by opening up about his HIV+ status before running for Parliament earlier this year, said: “Combatting stigma is key to people talking about HIV and where people know they are at risk, getting help and support through whichever means including PREP will in the long run lessen HIV infections.”
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has also recorded a video for World AIDS Day.
Watch it below: