An HIV drug that works as a prophylactic and helps prevent the spread of the virus is to become routinely available in Wales.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) was previously made available as part of a trial in Wales three years ago but will now be made formally available on the NHS.
The news follows a successful three year trail period advised by All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG), concerning more than 1,200 people in Wales.
The statement reads: “In the three years since the PrEPARED study began, over 1,200 people have been prescribed PrEP and there have been no new diagnoses of HIV amongst people taking PrEP in Wales”.
The Health Minister hopes that the HIV prevention drug will be an important measure for eliminating HIV in Wales. The Welsh Government was the first UK government to commit to ending new HIV transmissions by 2030.
“The provision of PrEP is an important measure in our aim to eliminate HIV and I am proud of what we have achieved to date in Wales. We have made huge progress in developing more modern and effective sexual health services over the last few years”.
The drug will now be continuously available following AWMSG advice stating in all cases, that PrEP is “likely” to be cost-effective.
Debbie Laycok, Head of Policy at HIV prevention charity Terrence Higgins Trust has responded to the statement today saying: “‘This is a significant milestone in the HIV response in Wales. Thanks to the existing provision, PrEP has already made a real impact in the fight against HIV in Wales, with zero new HIV transmissions among those taking PrEP in the last three years. By making this HIV game-changer routinely available its benefits can now be fully unlocked”
“‘We understand that Covid-19 is continuing to put pressure on all parts of the health service. However it’s really important there is a smooth transition onto routine PrEP for people currently accessing PrEP through the study”
“We will continue to play our part in working alongside the Welsh Government and ensure that it fulfils its promise to end the HIV epidemic in Wales by 2030. Today is a seminal moment in the journey towards this goal”.