PrEP HIV prevention drug is backed for use in Scotland

Scotland is the first part of the UK where PrEP HIV drug will be availabe on the NHS.

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to make an HIV prevention drug available on the NHS.

Campaigners welcome the introduction of PrEP in Scotland  Photo: iStock

The Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has approved pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which has been shown to reduce by more than 90% the chance of infection in people at high risk.

Pro-PrEP campaigners have praised the ‘bold step’. Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, HIV Scotland, Waverley Care and NAT (the National Aids Trust) welcomed the decision.

Public engagement

In a joint statement, the charities said: ‘PrEP provides opportunities to reinvigorate how people at higher risk of HIV exposure engage with testing and prevention, and it is a vital opportunity to reduce the number of HIV transmissions.’

Robert McKay, national director of the Terrence Higgins Trust Scotland, said the decision would save the NHS £360,000 for every person it protected from infection.

'No replacement for condoms'

Scotland’s public health minister Aileen Campbell said: ‘PrEP is not a replacement for using condoms, which prevent the transmission of a number of sexually transmitted infections. It will remain important to have regular sexual health check-ups.’ 

Health Protection Scotland said 285 cases of HIV were diagnosed in 2016. SMC chairman Alan MacDonald said the drug, ‘when used with safer sex practices, may help to reduce the spread of HIV, which is an ongoing priority for the Scottish Government’.

In December, NHS England announced a three-year clinical trial of PrEP,  which has the brand name Truvada, after losing a legal battle in which it argued local authorities should fund provision of the drug.

In other news:

Patients need more support to save their fertility, says RCN

Job applications soar at hospital trust after TV documentary series

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.