Scotland has become the first nation in the UK to approve the HIV prevention drug PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylaxis).
The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) came down with the decision that PrEP is a cost-effective treatment to prevent transmission of HIV.
The PrEP for Scotland Coalition (HIV Scotland, Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, Waverley Care, and the National AIDS Trust) responded to the decision with the following statement: “We applaud the SMC for taking this bold step to tackling HIV in Scotland.
“PrEP provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention opportunities, and it is a vital opportunity to make a real reduction in the number of new HIV transmissions.”
The National AIDS Trust tweeted that the medication would be available within a matter of weeks in Scotland.
— National AIDS Trust (@NAT_AIDS_Trust) April 10, 2017
HIV Scotland commented on the ruling: “HIV Scotland welcomes this great decision that we have spent years campaigning for as an essential addition to Scotland’s HIV prevention approach. In 2016 HIV Scotland published a PrEP good practice guide, and administered Scotland’s expert group which produced prescribing criteria, cost assessments, and mapped information and training needs of workers and the community.”
In December, NHS England has announced that they will be funding for 10,000 people to receive the HIV prevention drug, PrEP, after a long fight with sexual health advocates in court.
NHS England previously stopped commissioning PrEP in March 2016, prompting the National Aids Trust to take legal action in the hope of bringing PrEP back and winning the fight.
Matthew Hodson previously blogged for Attitude on the issue of PrEP, writing: “We already know from numerous studies, including the PROUD study, that PrEP massively reduces the risk of infection. For preventing HIV, PrEP is more effective than condom use. Any further delay now simply means that more people will become infected with HIV, when that infection could have been averted.
“We should not let tradition alone dictate how HIV is prevented. We now have all the tools that we need to effectively end new HIV infections, however, the puzzle is not complete unless we can add something more to our prevention armoury.”