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HIV charity to fund PrEP for those who cannot afford it in England and Northern Ireland

The Terrence Higgins Trust aims to roll out the PrEP Access Fund this autumn

By Steve Brown

A leading HIV and sexual health charity has announced plans to fund the HIV prevention drug PrEP for those who cannot afford it.

The Terrence Higgins Trust – the British HIV and sexual health charity – revealed they would be funding the PrEP Access Fund which aims to benefit up to 1,000 people in England and Northern Ireland.

At the moment, NHS England is running a three-year PrEP Impact Trial but despite being a set number of spaces for gay and bi men, a large number of clinics have already reached their quota.

In Northern Ireland, PrEP is only available for those who are able to afford to buy it privately, whereas, the prevention drug is commissioned by the NHS in Scotland and is available in Wales as part of a trial study.

But now, THT CEO Ian Green has revealed the charity will be funding the HIV prevention drug later this year.

He told Gay Star News: “PrEP is a game-changer in HIV prevention, and it’s crucial that all people who need it are able to access it.

“To ensure this happens, and to make sure there is equity in PrEP access in England and Northern Ireland, we are stepping in to support those who need PrEP who are also in most financial need.

“We will continue to lobby for NHS England to routinely commission PrEP and will support our friends in Northern Ireland as they continue to pursue routine commissioning there.”

The PrEP Access Fund will be rolled out this autumn and will cover a three-month supply of the drug at a time.

In a statement, Green continued: “The fact that a charity is having to step in to fund PrEP access to those in most financial need is an embarrassment, and demonstrates the crucial need for NHS England, local authorities in England and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland to act now.

“People who are being denied access to PrEP and who are unable to afford it are being put at risk of contracting HIV, which is completely unacceptable.

We need to see additional spaces for gay and bisexual men added to the NHS PrEP Impact Trial as a matter of urgency, and routine commissioning of PrEP in both England and Northern Ireland.

Last week, we were one of 32 organisations who came together to call for routine commissioning of PrEP in England by April 2019.”