Today brings great news, as a High Court has overturned the NHS’ decision not to fund the HIV prevention drug PrEP.
The NHS had originally argued that the funding of PrEP was not their responsibility, and claimed that it was up to councils to provide PrEP as they were in charge of preventative health.
The case was brought to the High Court by the National Aids Trust (NAT), who have now managed to score a massive victory.
Mr Justice Green ruled that the NHS “has erred in deciding that it has no power or duty to commission the preventative drugs in issue”.
However, will this ruling is huge, it does not necessarily mean that PrEP will be automatically funded, as it is still down to health bosses whether or not it’s effective enough to warrant funding.
PrEP has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 90%. The NHS warned, however, that if they prioritised PrEP they would face challenges from people wanting access to other preventative treatments.
NAT CEO Deborah Gold had this to say of their victory: “This is fantastic news. It is vindication for the many people who were let down when NHS England absolved itself of responsibility for PrEP. The judgment has confirmed our view – that it is perfectly lawful for NHS England to commission PrEP. Now NHS England must do just that.”
Mr Justice Green’s full judgement reads: “No one doubts that preventative medicine makes powerful sense. But one governmental body says it has no power to provide the service and the local authorities say that they have no money.”
“The Claimant is caught between the two and the potential victims of this disagreement are those who will contract HIV/AIDs but who would not were the preventative policy to be fully implemented.”
Harry Dodd, one of about 500 homosexual men in England who are taking PrEP as part of a trial, had this to say: “I’ve seen the panic on the face of previous boyfriends when they are awaiting their [HIV test] results – it’s a huge fear and it affects everything you do. To be able to have sex without having that fear hanging over you all the time is huge.”
“Too many people seem to think it will encourage a hedonistic lifestyle, but for me this is about saving lives. People reacted with cynicism when the contraceptive pill for women was first introduced. For me, taking Prep has helped me to trust again, have relationships and build bridges and that shouldn’t be taken away.”