PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), the drug which cuts the risk of catching HIV is to be made available on the NHS in Scotland, following a decision by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC).
The drug, which goes under the brand name of Truvada, and, when taken daily, can reduce the risk of catching HIV by 90 per cent.
Dr Alan MacDonald, the SMC Chairman, said: “PrEP, when used together with safer sex practices may help reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish government.”
Deborah Gold of the National AIDS Trust (NAT) called the decision a “game changer”, and a spokesperson for the PrEP4Scotland Coalition said: “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.”
Robert McKay, national director for the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said: “Today, Scotland has made history in the fight against the HIV epidemic. PrEP can now be used as a vital tool – alongside condom use, regular testing and early treatment – to help bring an end to HIV transmission in Scotland.
“Not only will this make a life-changing difference to individuals by protecting them from a lifelong and stigmatised condition, but for every person who would have become HIV positive without PrEP, NHS Scotland will save £360,000 in lifetime treatment costs
In England, the NHS unsuccessfully argued that it was not responsible for providing the drug. However it has not yet been approved for regular preventative use.