Assembly calls for HIV drug to be more available
The drug PrEP can significantly reduce the risk of people contracting HIV.
The London Assembly has today called on the Chair of the Assembly and the Mayor of London to jointly write to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requesting that routine commissioning of PrEP is introduced in London and across England from April 2020.
Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, who proposed the motion said:
“It is vital that all those who need PrEP have access to it as soon as possible.
“PrEP works – there is clear evidence about that.
“Denying people access to this drug simply puts more people at risk of HIV transmission. It is vital that routine commissioning of PrEP starts in London in 2020.”
Tom Copley AM, who seconded the motion said:
“To eradicate HIV transmission in the UK by 2030, we must use all the tools at our disposal.
“PrEP is a proven and cost-effective way of significantly reducing a person’s risk of becoming infected with HIV, yet too many Londoners are missing out on trial places for the treatment.
It is absolutely unacceptable that despite the lobbying efforts being made by a number of sexual health charities, there have been cases of gay and bisexual men in the capital being diagnosed with HIV whilst waiting in the queue to access PrEP.
“This is an entirely avoidable situation and can be remedied if a national programme for PrEP is put in place by April next year. Making the drug routinely available would not only go towards addressing some of the longstanding health inequalities in our capital, but it could also save many lives.
“In the meantime, I call on NHS England to move swiftly to ensure that the Dean Street clinic, a vital resource for London’s LGBT community which is about to close its PrEP trial to new patients due to funding constraints, has funding for enough places into the new year.
“I’m in no doubt that if HIV affected the general population to the same degree it affects LGBT and BAME communities, PrEP wouldn’t just be routinely available on the NHS, they’d put it in drinking water.”
The full text of the motion is:
“The London Assembly notes the clearly documented effectiveness of the drug PrEP in significantly reducing the risk for people getting HIV. The Assembly notes that it is available on the NHS in England only as part of a trial, as opposed to being routinely available. The Assembly also notes that there are cases of gay and bisexual men in London being diagnosed with HIV while waiting to access the PrEP trial, cases that could have been prevented if the drug had been routinely available. The Assembly notes the high human cost of new infections and the significant financial cost to the NHS of providing lifetime treatment.
The Assembly welcomes the steps taken by NHS England to expand the number of trial places, but believes that everything should be done to ensure a national programme for PrEP is established and is an integral part of the UK’s sexual health services. The Assembly believes that stopping new infections should be the priority.
The Assembly commends the work of the Terrence Higgins Trust, the National AIDs Trust and PrEPster in highlighting the importance of the availability of PrEP and supports their call for routine commissioning to be introduced from April 2020 and for PrEP to be a cornerstone for reaching the 2030 target of no new transmissions of HIV in the UK. The Assembly notes the importance of ensuring a smooth transition from the trial to routine commissioning so that nobody on the trial finds themselves without access to PrEP when the trial ends. The Assembly also notes the Mayor’s backing of a swift roll-out of PReP across the capital as set out in the London Health Inequalities Strategy, published in September 2018.
The Assembly calls upon the Chair of the Assembly and the Mayor of London to write jointly to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care requesting that routine commissioning is introduced in London and across England from April 2020.”
Notes to editors
- Watch the full webcast
- The motion was agreed unanimously
- Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, who proposed the motion, is available for interviews.
- As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.
For media enquiries, please contact Alison Bell on 020 7983 4228. For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.