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Tim Farron: NHS should provide HIV-preventing PrEP drugs for gay sex

Nick Duffy May 10, 2017
Tim Farron

Tim Farron

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has thrown his weight behind HIV-preventing drugs on the NHS.

Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) drug Truvada can drastically reduce the risk of being infected with HIV if taken daily.

Health experts say rolling out PrEP in the UK would be cost-effective if it leads to even a small reduction in HIV infections, as the lifetime cost of just one HIV infection can be up to £380,000.

Scotland recently became the first part of the UK to approve the use of PrEP as HIV prevention, while decisions in England and Wales have been delayed for public trials.

Ahead of next month’s General Election, the Liberal Democrats today announced a policy to ensure access to the HIV prevention drug Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) on the NHS.

Tim Farron

The party, led by Tim Farron, has backed the use of PrEP for people in “high-risk groups”, defined by the World Health Organisation as men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers and people in serodiscordant relationships.

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron told PinkNews: “Offering PrEP on the NHS is the smart thing to do and the right thing to do, the needs of the communities this affects have been ignored for too long.

“The Liberal Democrats will act quickly to fix this injustice.”

Liberal Democrat Shadow Health Secretary Norman Lamb said: “PrEP is a vital weapon in the fight against HIV, and it’s high time that it was made routinely available to those who are at risk of infection.

“The Liberal Democrats in Parliament have led calls for PrEP to be made available to all high-risk groups.

“We know that PrEP is highly effective in reducing transmission of the virus. Prevention is always better than treatment, so it makes absolutely no sense to delay roll-out of the drug any longer.”

PrEP user and campaigner Nick Perry said: “It’s absolutely right for the Liberal Democrats to press the NHS to get on with commissioning a wholly effective and proven HIV prevention tool – PrEP – across the UK.

“Prevention isn’t just better than cure clinically – trials and modelling have shown it to be highly cost- effective too.

“Each day 16 more people in the UK are diagnosed HIV positive.

“The end of new HIV infections is in our grasp, and the NHS needs to make it happen.”

Last year NHS England took to the courts to argue that it is not responsible for commissioning the drugs, in a contentious spat with HIV activists. The body had attempted to place the burden of PrEP commissioning on local authorities, whose HIV prevention budgets are already squeezed.

However, after a legal challenge from the National AIDS Trust, the High Court ruled that the NHS does have responsibility. The NHS is set to begin a PrEP trial in England over the summer.

Mr Farron came under fire last month in a row over gay sex.

In an interview with Channel 4, Mr Farron was asked if he believes gay sex is sinful, but refused to answer the question. He dodged the same question in multiple interviews for a full week.

The row was eventually put to bed in an interview with the BBC, when Mr Farron explained he doesn’t think gay sex is a sin.

PinkNews reported last week that the Lib Dems are are using a targeted digital advertising campaign to reach LGBT voters after the row.

PinkNews Q&A: Submit your questions for Lib Dem leader Tim Farron

More: Gay, General Election 2017, LGBT, Lib Dem, liberal democrat, Sex, tim farron, UK

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