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Wales to make anti-HIV drug available on NHS

Today, Vaughan Gething MS, Minister for Health and Social Services, has announced that the anti-HIV drug, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will be made routinely available on the NHS in Wales.

The announcement follows a three-year all-Wales study in its use as part of a wider HIV prevention approach.

It was also confirmed there have been zero new HIV transmissions among those who have been prescribed PrEP in Wales via the existing national study which is now coming to an end.

Vaughan Gething MS said:

“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. We have also benefited from the emergence of generic versions of PrEP that are available to the NHS at a greatly reduced price when compared to the proprietary product. This, together with the interim data collected in the PrEPARED study addressing some of  the uncertainty in the initial appraisal, has meant AWMSG have now advised me that in all scenarios, PrEP is likely to be cost-effective, irrespective of any remaining uncertainties.

“I am therefore very pleased to be able to confirm I have today (30 June) endorsed AWMSG’s updated recommendation that PrEP continues to be routinely available in Wales, not as part of a study, but as part of routine NHS care for all people for whom it is clinically appropriate.

“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.”

This is a huge milestone in the fight against HIV in Wales, by making this anti-HIV drug routinely available and recognising its cost effectiveness, its benefits can now be fully unlocked. The Welsh Government has already committed to ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 and PrEP will now play a big part in achieving this.

Debbie Laycock, Head of Policy at Terrence Higgins Trust, said:

“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.

“The Welsh Government was the first UK government to commit to ending new HIV transmissions by 2030 and long-term PrEP access will play a big part in making this a reality. Wales continues to lead the way and has provided a firm commitment to PrEP and recognising it as being cost effective. This political leadership has been important.

“We have been proud to stand alongside other charities, community groups and activists across Wales to ensure today’s announcement was the right one. Now the real work begins to get PrEP in the hands of more of those who can benefit from it.’