Game Changer: HIV Treatment 'Prep' Approved For Testing In England

National Health Service England lost a court battle a few months ago about about funding a trial for the drug "Prep".  The organization insisted costs should be shouldered by local authorities, not them.  Just recently, though, they finally agreed to fund the clinical three-year trial for Prep, which will start next year, and which will cost them about £10 million. 

AIDS Charities Said NHS' Decision Is 'Life-Changing'

Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, is described as a "game changer" by specialists, because it is said to reduce the risk of HIV infection by 90%.  The retroviral drug, which has a brand name Truvada, will be given to about 10,000 gay men who have a high risk of getting HIV.   Truvada costs about £400 a month per person.  Aids charities applauded NHS' decision and said this trial will be "life changing". 

Deputy national medical director at NHS England, Dr Jonathan Fielden, said that the trial "in part, been made possible by the willingness of many pharmaceutical and device companies to come forward with lower and more responsible prices".

Some People Are Not Happy With The Clinical Trial

Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in the US, is concerned that the drug would increase the spread of HIV, given that it is not 100% effective.  Another critic, Joyce Robins from Patient Concern, said that funding the trial might not be good move at a time when health services are struggling to cope with the demand. 

"It worries me to be spending money on this at a time when the NHS is so strapped for cash, with so many patients being refused treatment, and waiting lists getting longer," Robins said.

Also opposing the trial are Christian charities.  Christian organisation CARE spokesman, James Mildred, said: "If this drug is ultimately made available on the NHS we think there is a danger it will end up promoting promiscuity and more hedonistic, but risky lifestyles."

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