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Health secretary Matt Hancock says there’s ‘more to do’ to end HIV transmissions and people have some suggestions

Nick Duffy January 16, 2020
Health secretary Matt Hancock celebrated a drop in HIV transmissions and got an immediate response

Health secretary Matt Hancock celebrated a drop in HIV transmissions and got an immediate response (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Health secretary Matt Hancock is facing calls to roll out PrEP across England, after celebrating a fall in HIV transmissions.

The Tory minister had celebrated new data published on Thursday that reveals new HIV infections have fallen by an estimated 73 per cent in four years.

In a video, Hancock said the new figures were “great news” and show that “an injustice is being corrected.”

He added: “Let’s celebrate this progress, and redouble our progress to end HIV transmission so we can lead full and happy lives.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock says there’s ‘more to do’ – and people have some suggestions.

Hancock’s claim that “there’s still more to do” on the issue prompted an immediate suggestion from LGBT+ people.

Author Juno Dawson responded: “There is an effective prevention tool called PrEP. Trials have proved its effectiveness in reducing HIV transmission. You won’t fund a national roll out. Why not?”

Another user wrote: “The ludicrous thing is that we have a drug that prevents transmission in 100% of cases when used correctly. But people still have to pay privately for prescriptions, leaving the poorest the most vulnerable. Just fund PrEP.”

One response stated: “FUND PREP YOU MUPPET.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock was urged to roll out PrEP in England
Health secretary Matt Hancock was urged to roll out PrEP in England (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Public Health England attributed some of the fall in HIV transmissions can be attributed to growing use of PrEP, which is recommended for use by at-risk gay men and trans people and can eliminate the risk of HIV infection.

However, while PrEP is now fully available in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it is still only available in England on a limited trial basis.

HIV charities tell health secretary to act

HIV charities have repeatedly called for the full roll-out of PrEP in England.

Deborah Gold of National AIDS Trust said: “The Government must once and for all deliver the funding necessary to enable routine commissioning of PrEP as part of a comprehensive and properly funded sexual health service.”

Debbie Laycock of Terrence Higgins Trust added: “The Health Secretary says prevention and public health are clear priorities for this Government yet access to HIV prevention pill PrEP remains capped in England and sexual health services are struggling to cope with demand.

“We strongly support the Government’s focus on prevention but it needs to put its money where its mouth is by providing PrEP access for all who need it and ensuring sexual health services are fully funded to play their part in reaching the 2030 target.

“Despite PrEP playing a significant part in the decline of new HIV transmissions over the past few years, in particular among gay and bisexual men, access to the drug remains capped in England.”

“Waiting lists across the country are growing and we know that several men have been diagnosed with HIV while trying to access PrEP.

“This is a scandal and underlines why the limited availability of PrEP risks seriously holding us back in the fight against HIV.”

Laycock continued: “We will not stop fighting until PrEP is given a proper home as part of routine sexual health services and is accessible to all who need it, as well as ensuring it’s properly promoted to all groups impacted by HIV.

‘The ongoing rhetoric around public health and prevention must now be urgently backed up with decisive action.

“We’re looking to Matt Hancock to fulfil his commitment on PrEP and step up and show public health – including sexual health – is a real priority for this Government.”

More: HIV, Matt Hancock, PrEP

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