Stephen Fry slams ‘frustrating’ NHS decision on HIV-preventing PrEP drugs
Stephen Fry has slammed NHS England’s ‘deeply frustrating’ decision to not commission HIV-preventing PrEP drugs.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can reduce people’s chances of being infected with HIV by up to 99 percent, if taken daily.
Though the drug is endorsed by the World Health Organisation and is available to at-risk gay men in a number of countries, NHS England has repeatedly deferred a decision on the drugs – despite a pilot scheme showed the drugs were incredibly effective at reducing HIV transmission among men who have sex with men (MSM).
This week, NHS England ruled out a large scale roll-out for PrEP instead funding a further two-year trial at “early implementer” sites.
HIV groups have threatened a legal challenge over the decision, and now Stephen Fry, a patron of Terrence Higgins Trust, has waded omtp the row.
The actor and TV host said: “I have been a supporter of HIV charities for 35 years and seen remarkable medical and social breakthroughs in treating infection and stigma. But I never imagined I would be alive to see the day when a pill was created that could actually prevent HIV.
“It is remarkable and thrilling to witness so tremendous an achievement, but deeply frustrating in equal measure to discover that our national health service has pointedly refused to provide it to people at significant risk of infection from HIV.
“Surely this must be challenged: if not in the name of humanity then in the name of economy and plain common sense.”
His sentiments were echoed by Dr Christian Jessen, an ambassador for National HIV Testing Week, who said: “I was shocked and saddened to see NHS England’s refusal to fund PrEP, following months of campaigning by HIV organisations and activists.
“As a doctor, this makes no sense to me. There should be no ‘controversy’ – this is a drug that works, it will halt HIV, and it is cost-effective.
“Condom use has prevented tens of thousands of HIV infections and remains a cornerstone of HIV prevention, but it’s not enough on its own. PrEP could have been the last piece of the puzzle.”