UNAIDS warmly welcomes the decision made to make pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) available to everyone who needs it in England. Activists and advocates have been campaigning for a number of years to make the life-saving preventative HIV medicine available to people at higher risk of HIV and on 15 March the government announced that PrEP will be made available across the country as part of the government’s efforts to end HIV transmission by 2030.
“This is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “PrEP has been evaluated across different age groups among gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender women, heterosexual men and women and people who inject drugs. In each of these contexts, the data are clear: PrEP prevents HIV and must be made available to all who need it.”
From 2017, PrEP was available in England as part of the Impact trial, which enrolled around 20 000 participants. The government has committed £16 million from 2020 to 2021 for the roll-out of PrEP through the National Health Service, starting in April 2020.
The availability of PrEP through the Impact trial is believed to have contributed to the fall in new HIV infections among gay men and other men who have sex with men across England. New infections among gay men and other men who have sex with men are estimated to have fallen by 71% from their peak in 2012. Efforts are being put in place to improve the availability of PrEP, as part of a comprehensive sexual health service, to other groups that could benefit.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has accelerated its response to HIV and has already achieved the 90–90–90 targets. Of the estimated 103 800 people living with HIV in the United Kingdom in 2018, 93% had been diagnosed with the virus, of whom 97% were accessing treatment, and, of the people on treatment, 97% had undetectable viral loads, meaning they cannot transmit the virus.