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Court ruling on HIV ‘game-changing’ drug – BBC News

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Image copyright Science Photo Library

A High Court judge is set to rule on an NHS England decision not to fund a drug that can prevent HIV – a treatment campaigners call a “game changer”.

NHS England says it is up to local authorities to provide the pre-exposure prophylaxis (Prep) drug, but is being challenged by the National Aids Trust.

Using Prep has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%.

The once-a-day pill, which costs 400 a month per person, works by disabling the virus to stop it multiplying.

The idea is to give it to uninfected men who are having unprotected sex with other men.

It is currently used in America, Canada, Australia and France to help protect the most at-risk gay men.

Access argument

NHS England has stated Prep is preventative, and so not its responsibility.

In May, it said it had legal advice that said it did not have the “legal power to commission Prep” and that under 2013 regulations “local authorities are the responsible commissioner for HIV prevention services”.

NHS England has also warned that if it prioritises Prep, there is a risk of a legal challenge from people wanting similar access to other preventative treatments.

The National Aids Trust has said local authorities do not have sole responsibility for HIV prevention in England.


‘This is about saving lives’

Image caption Harry Dodd says taking Prep has still not become socially acceptable

Harry Dodd, 25, is one of about 500 homosexual men in England who are taking Prep as part of a trial called Proud.

He says: “I’ve seen the panic on the face of previous boyfriends when they are awaiting their [HIV test] results – it’s a huge fear and it affects everything you do.

“To be able to have sex without having that fear hanging over you all the time is huge.”

Harry says taking Prep has still not become socially acceptable.

“Too many people seem to think it will encourage a hedonistic lifestyle, but for me this is about saving lives,” he says.

“People reacted with cynicism when the contraceptive pill for women was first introduced.

“For me, taking Prep has helped me to trust again, have relationships and build bridges and that shouldn’t be taken away.”

Read more on Harry’s story


Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-36946000

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