PrEP isn’t free on the NHS in England, but it needs to be

For the 26,000 people in England taking part in the PrEP Impact Trial, the drug is available for free on the NHS. Everyone else wanting it, however, does not have the same luxury and can pay anywhere from £17.50 to hundreds of pounds per month for it, depending on where they buy it. But why is it that a drug, which is believed by medical professionals to be almost 100% effective in preventing the transmission of HIV when used effectively, is not easily accessible to everyone like other medication is?

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, PrEP is available through NHS sexual health clinics. There is no valid reason as to why this same system has not been implemented in England, especially given the UK’s Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s commitment to ending the transmission of HIV in England by 2030. Despite the 71% drop in new HIV infections from 2012-2018 in England, the need for free PrEP is as strong as ever. The 15 people diagnosed with HIV while waiting for a place on the Impact Trial will tell you that.

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